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Concerns raised over Harbor Police officer-involved shooting

Santee couple's SUV struck by stray bullet on Harbor Drive
Questions raised in Harbor Police officer-involved shooting
Posted at 5:09 PM, Jun 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-24 00:09:19-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - New questions are being raised about an officer-involved shooting outside Harbor Police headquarters in April, which included a stray bullet striking a passing SUV.

Right under Robin Stewart's passenger window is a reminder of a fun afternoon turned scary.

“It was very frightening, very frightening,” said Robin Stewart, 70.

On April 10, Billy and Robin Stewart celebrated their 44th anniversary with lunch on the waterfront.

The Santee couple had just left the restaurant, and as they turned right onto busy North Harbor Drive, they heard loud noises.

“Bam, bam, bam. I heard three rapid shots,” said Robin.

It was the sound on gunshots. One of the bullets struck their SUV right below the front passenger window, inches from where Billy was sitting.

“I felt the impact when the bullet hit the car. That's when I yelled, ‘We’ve been hit!’” said Billy Stewart, 86.

About a hundred feet away, right in front of the Harbor Police headquarters: a hail of gunfire.

Police body cam shows a man in a car pointing a gun at an officer, before the officer begins firing.

Eventually, three officers fire dozens of rounds. Two are seen reloading. The armed man is repeatedly told to drop the gun.

The suspect, who didn't appear to return fire, was critically wounded, but survived and is facing charges.

Meanwhile, the Stewarts, survived a close call.

Billy, who worked in used car sales, says there is a steel window mechanism near the bullet hole, which likely prevented the bullet from passing through.

“It is a miracle. It is a miracle that we are alive,” said Robin.

Though grateful, the couple is now raising concerns about the police response and the numbers of rounds fired.

“To me, it was overkill,” said Robin.

Kevin LaChapelle, a former El Cajon Police officer, says there are no protocols on how many shots an officer can fire while the threat remains, but the risk to bystanders is part of the equation.

“Very quick, split-second decision making. You’re trying to keep your focus on the threat, while simultaneously focusing on the background … to see who could be at risk,” said LaChapelle.

"Police need to be vigilant around what's beyond what they're firing that,” said Billy.

Billy has been receiving treatment for PTSD stemming from the incident.

Harbor Police declined comment, citing an ongoing investigation being handled by San Diego Police. When that probe ends, a Harbor Police internal investigation will take place.