E.C. police subdue 14-year-old boy with non-lethal beanbag

May 10, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

El Centro police used a new non-lethal weapon that deploys beanbag projectiles to subdue a 14-year-old boy wielding a meat cleaver in Carlos Aguilar Park in the city's northwest section this morning.

Police deployed two rounds to control the youth, allowing officers to take the boy into custody. He was taken to El Centro Regional Medical Center for treatment, although there was no information available on whether the youth was injured.

The incident started shortly after 8 a.m. when police responded to a call that an individual was in the park with a knife.

Veteran El Centro police Officer Ray Bonillas was the first to arrive.

According to police Lt. Paul Longoria, Bonillas found the youth in the park with a meat cleaver. Bonillas called on the youth to drop the cleaver, but the boy refused.


Bonillas continued to talk to the boy, and Longoria credited the officer with keeping the youth in the park until other units responded.

Those responding included sergeants Mike Beltran and Mike Crankshaw, both of whom were armed with the department's new Specialty Impact Munitions System, a less-than-lethal weapon that deploys beanbags.

Officers continued to talk to the youth, calling on him to drop the cleaver. Longoria said the boy appeared to be looking around for a way to escape and was standing with his arms crossed.

Longoria said efforts to communicate with the youth, whose name was not released because he is a juvenile, were not working and the decision was made to have Beltran deploy one SIMS round.

"It was deployed because all other avenues were depleted," Longoria said. "The communication with the individual was not proving fruitful and we were concerned for the individual hurting himself or others."

When the boy was struck he fell and dropped the cleaver. Officers then moved in to take him into custody. Longoria said one more round was deployed by Beltran when it appeared the youth was again reaching for the cleaver. The second round stopped the boy and officers took him into custody.

Longoria said the youth was going to be kept on a 72-hour protective hold. While the investigation into the case is ongoing, Longoria said the boy apparently went to the park because he was distraught about a family situation.

The youth lives close to the park.

According to Longoria, this morning was the first time police have used the new non-lethal weapon.

"There is no doubt in my mind we saved this young man's life," Longoria said, adding the SIMS proved it is an effective way to control a dangerous situation.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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