A law enforcement review board has ruled that San Diego County Sheriff's deputy Steven Block was justified in the shooting death of 56-year-old Gary Kendrick in Encinitas on March 27, 2015.
The Community Law Enforcement Review Board reviewed the death and released the ruling in its agenda for its April 17 meeting.
Kendrick, armed with a shotgun and a bottle of Vodka and upset over marital problems, informed his wife that he planned to kill himself. He told her that if police officers arrived he would force them to shoot him. According to the board's agenda, Kendrick sat on a small patch of grass and placed the shotgun to his chin. A neighbor attempted to talk him out of it and Kendrick threatened to shoot the neighbor. Deputy Block, a three-year veteran on the force, arrived on the scene and took cover at a nearby garage.
The incident was captured on video by a neighbor, who later posted the video on YouTube. In it, Block is heard shouting "get back" and "cover me." Several shots were fired. A woman's voice, likely Kendrick's wife, can be heard shouting, "you killed him. He's dying."
According to the board's report, before the video, Block had ordered Kendrick to drop his weapon. Kendrick aimed the shotgun at Block which prompted the deputy to shoot six rounds, killing Kendrick. A toxicology report showed Kendrick's blood alcohol level was .28 percent at the time of his death.
Found the law enforcement board, "Individuals sometimes commit crimes with the specific intention of provoking a law enforcement response. 'Suicide by cop' encompasses those who are contemplating suicide and want to provoke police to kill them. The evidence showed Deputy [Block] was faced with a situation of imminent danger when Kendrick pointed his shotgun at [him]; his responsive reactions were lawful, justified and proper."
In a May 2016 review of Kendrick's death, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis found deputy Block was justified in the use of deadly force. The district attorney's report found Kendrick had attempted suicide before.