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Man killed in City Heights officer-involved shooting identified

Richard Lewis Price of San Diego died at the scene of the confrontation in which he allegedly pointed an airsoft pellet gun at officers.
Credit: San Diego Police Department

SAN DIEGO — Authorities Tuesday publicly identified a 49-year-old man who was fatally shot by police last week when he allegedly pointed an airsoft pellet gun at officers in a residential neighborhood near Hoover High School.

Richard Lewis Price of San Diego died at the scene of the confrontation in the 4200 block of Menlo Avenue in the Teralta East section of City Heights, according to police.

The events that led to the deadly law enforcement shooting -- the second shooting involving San Diego Police Department personnel in less than a week -- began at about 3:50 p.m. Thursday, when a woman made a 911 call to report that a man had pointed a pistol at her and a female companion while they were driving through the mid-city neighborhood east of state Route 15.

The caller told a dispatcher that before she and her friend drove off in fear for their lives, Price slid his hand over the top of the gun as if loading a cartridge into its firing chamber, Lt. Matt Dobbs said.

When patrol personnel arrived in the area a short time later, the victims directed them to the suspect, who was standing on a sidewalk near El Cajon Boulevard.

Seeing that Price was carrying what appeared to be a firearm, the officers took cover and began shouting at him to drop it. Moments later, he raised his hands, and the pellet gun fell to the ground, police said.

For several minutes, the suspect, who appeared to be wearing a white mask over the lower part of his face, stood next to a parked vehicle, seemingly adjusting his pants or belt repeatedly as officers continued to order him in vain to back away from the gun.

At about 4 p.m., Price allegedly picked up the pellet gun and aimed it toward the officers, prompting several of them to open fire. Struck by at least one round, the suspect fell to the ground.

Despite the suspect's injuries, Price "was still moving and was in control of the weapon and had it pointed in the officers' direction, prompting a second volley of shots," according to Dobbs.

The officers then "developed a plan to use a combination of non- lethal options, including a bean bag round and canine, to safely take him into custody," Dobbs said.

Medics pronounced Price dead at the scene.

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It was only after officers got a close look at the "very realistic- looking" gun that the suspect had been carrying that they realized it was not a real firearm, Dobbs said.

The officers who opened fire on Price have been identified as David Burns, Joshua Clabough, Kevin Cummings, Jason Gonzalez, Joshua Lieber, Miles McArdle and Ace Ybanez.

The seven lawmen, whose tenures with the SDPD vary from seven months to 13 years, will serve desk duty pending completion of investigations into the shooting, which is department protocol in cases involving use of lethal police force.

After SDPD homicide detectives review the shooting, the county District Attorney's Office will evaluate their findings and determine whether the involved officers bear any criminal liability for their actions.

The San Diego Community Review Board on Police Practices, the FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office also will review the case, Dobbs said.

On July 5, three San Diego police officers opened fire on an arrestee who allegedly slipped out of a set of handcuffs at downtown SDPD headquarters, grabbed an officer's gun and fired at least one round.

The suspect, Keith Bergman, 25, suffered non-life-threatening wounds. He was released from medical care two days later and booked into county jail on suspicion of a slate of crimes, including attempted murder.

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