Civic Center Plaza

Police Investigate After Officer Shoots Homeless Man in Santa Ana

The officers involved reported that one of them opened fire after Swihart tried to grab a gun from one of the officers.

A 32-year-old homeless man was in critical condition Monday after being shot by a Santa Ana police officer near the Orange County Courthouse.

Police identified the man as Richard Gene Swihart. Swihart was shot in the upper torso after he got into an altercation with two officers at 9:30 a.m.

The officers involved reported that one of them opened fire after Swihart tried to grab the gun out of the other officer's holster.

"If somebody is going for your gun, you're going to do whatever you can to make sure that he doesn't get it," Santa Ana Police Department Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said.

Swithart suffered from mental health issues, said Smitty Smith, a homeless advocate.

Ten officers are assigned to patrol the Civic Center Plaza. By most estimates, it is where nearly 500 homeless people have set up camp.

Criminal Defense Attorney Scott Thomas said he saw officers trying to restrain Swihart, and did not see him hold a weapon.

"As I was looking down at my phone, I heard 'He's got a gun. He's got a gun,' and then two shots in rapid succession," Thomas said.

Police are continuing to investigate the shooting.

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