A California sheriff’s deputy is in the hospital after he was shot multiple times by a suspect during a traffic stop on Friday, according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
Deputies from the Thermal Sheriff’s Station of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department were conducting a traffic stop on Friday evening in Coachella when a male passenger “fled from deputies,” the department said Saturday in a news release.
“After a foot pursuit into a residential neighborhood, a physical altercation occurred between the deputy and the suspect,” the department said. “During the altercation, the suspect shot the deputy causing injury.”
The Riverside County Sheriff’s deputy was injured by the suspect but fired back, according to the department. The male suspect “was struck by gunfire and pronounced deceased on scene,” it said.
“One of the suspect’s rounds struck the deputy in the chest and the ballistic vest absorbed the impact of that projectile and prevented the deputy from sustaining any major injury,” the release said.
The department is not releasing the names of the male suspect or the deputy involved, the release said.
At least four law enforcement officers were seriously injured during traffic stops across the United States over the last week – three by gunfire – leading to the death of one sheriff’s deputy in Houston last weekend.
Law enforcement experts say the attacks this week highlight the risks inherent to the job of policing, even if they aren’t evidence of a growing trend. Elsewhere, three officers were shot in Houston while trying to apprehend a carjacking suspect, and two were killed last week in New York City responding to a domestic disturbance.
The injured Riverside deputy is in the hospital being treated for multiple gunshot wounds and is expected to be released with non-life-threatening injuries, the agency said. He has been placed on administrative leave in accordance with department policy.
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department has confiscated the gun used by the now deceased male suspect, according to the department.
An investigator from the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office will lead an investigation into the Coachella shooting, aided by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Force Investigations Detail, the department said.
The driver of the car is cooperating with the investigation and there are no additional suspects in the incident, according to the statement.
“Officers being shot and killed and seriously injured doing stops is nothing new, any more than officers responding to domestic violence calls being shot and killed. They’re both considered statistically a high-risk category in what we do,” Thor Eells, executive director of the National Tactical Officers Association, told CNN. “It’s a tragedy, and it has been.”
Eells said the reason traffic stops are dangerous is because of the “unknown” that officers are approaching. There are some things that can lessen risk – like positioning of a squad car or illuminating the inside of the stopped car – but officers can’t eliminate risk.