Lompoc police officers’ fatal shooting of a 26-year-old man in March was ruled a justifiable homicide by the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office after reviewing the report of an investigation by the County Sheriff’s Office.
Krys Brandon Ruiz died at about 8:10 p.m. March 28 after being struck by three bullets as he rushed toward two officers with a kitchen knife raised in his hands while wearing a full-face clown mask.
Each officer, identified only as Cpl. White and Officer Calderon, fired four shots at Ruiz, and three bullets struck him.
But the District Attorney’s Office public report on the shooting, dated Thursday, did not say which officer fired the fatal bullet that struck Ruiz in the head.
The investigation showed Ruiz intended to commit what’s called “suicide by cop” through actions intended to force officers to shoot him and, in fact, he made the 911 call that brought police to the alley between North H and North G streets.
“When Mr. Ruiz charged at Officer Calderon with his knife raised, after being commanded to stop and show his hands, he created a reasonable fear of death or great bodily injury in the minds of Officer Calderon and Cpl. White,” the report concluded.
“Based on the totality of the circumstances and applying the law as set forth in Penal Code sections 196 and 835a, the officers both acted reasonably in their use of deadly force; therefore, the shooting of Krys Ruiz is a justifiable homicide.”
Lompoc police had numerous previous encounters with Ruiz when he either threatened or attempted suicide, but on the night in question the officers who responded were unaware he was the man with the knife because of the full-face clown mask and did not know the identity of the 911 caller, according to the report.
White, Calderon, officers Carrillo and Strong and Sgt. Morgan all responded to the alley after a 911 caller reported someone with a gun wearing dark clothing and possibly a mask walking through the alley behind the 100 block of North H Street.
Carrillo, who was assigned as the responding officer on the call, drove up behind Ruiz walking along the alley and ordered him several times to stop and show his hands.
Ruiz refused to respond to the commands, then disappeared into bushes on a vacant lot at the corner of North H and Walnut streets.
Then Calderon spotted Ruiz wearing dark clothing and a clown mask walking through the bushes and ordered him to stop and show his hands, but Ruiz did not respond nor stop, the report said.
When he emerged from the bushes, Ruiz sprinted straight at Calderon and White with his arms raised, and when he was within 20 to 25 feet, Calderon could see he was holding a knife.
White could not see the knife, and as Ruiz rushed toward the officers White was starting to reholster his service pistol with the intent of using his feet or hands to deflect him from Calderon.
But White saw light reflect off a large knife in Ruiz’s hand when he was 15 or 20 feet away and, as he heard Calderon begin firing his department-issued AR-15, drew his weapon and also fired at Ruiz.
After the shooting, officers located a large kitchen knife under Ruiz and the words “Reach in my pocket” written on his arm.
In his pocket they found a paper that said “I hope my death makes more sense than my life” on the outside, with his name, his next of kin and his wishes for the disposition of his assets and his cremation written on the inside.
A toxicology report subsequently showed no substances of any issue in his body.