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‘Let her go! Let her go!’ California police officer shoots armed man who put his partner in a headlock

After a Fontana police officer was held in a headlock by a man during a traffic stop in Yucaipa, California, on Feb. 9, 2024, another officer shot the man, striking him near the jaw, Fontana Police Chief Michael Dorsey said in a recorded statement. (Dreamstime/TNS)

The traffic stop started off calmly.

Two Fontana police officers pulled over a black sport utility vehicle in Yucaipa, and a male officer asked the driver about what appeared to be a missing front license plate. They chatted about camping in the snow — the vehicle had overland camping gear affixed to it — and the officer chuckled when the man said he had previously been arrested for having illegal fireworks.

The officer asked the driver, whom authorities identified as Alan Metka, 56, to step out of his vehicle. His partner, a female officer, would pat him down to make sure he did not have any weapons on him.

The female officer searched him, remarking on their obvious height difference, as the male officer returned to his police car to run Metka’s information.

Seconds later, a shout rang out: “He’s got a gun!”

“Let her go! Let her go!” the male officer yelled as he ran toward his partner, who was being held in a headlock.

The Feb. 9 encounter was captured on body-worn camera footage the Fontana Police Department released on Thursday.

During the struggle at Yucaipa Boulevard and 14th Street, the male officer shot Metka, striking him near the jaw, Fontana Police Chief Michael Dorsey said in a recorded statement released with the video footage. A loaded semiautomatic pistol was taken from Metka’s pants pocket, he said.

The video footage shows the male officer telling Metka his front license plate was missing, which Metka denied, and that his window tint appeared too dark.

When the officer asked Metka if he had been arrested, he said that, about two years prior, he was arrested for “explosives in public.”

“That’s an interesting one,” the officer said, chuckling.

Metka said the arrest was for possessing fireworks and that he spent 11 months behind bars.

The officer asked if he was carrying any weapons. He said no.

As the female officer patted him down, she asked: “What’s this right here?”

“My gun,” he said.

Then, the video shows, he grabbed her and put her in a headlock.

The male officer’s gunshot cannot be heard in the video. But in footage from the female officer’s camera, he groans in pain and blood can be seen on the road.

Dorsey said his officers were gang investigators who were in Yucaipa to assist the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, which provides law enforcement service for the city.

Metka is being held at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon upon a police officer, resisting an executive officer and being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to San Bernardino County jail records.

The incident is being investigated by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department and District Attorney’s office, Dorsey said. The Fontana Police Department, he said, “is also conducting a parallel administrative investigation, and we are cooperating fully with the investigating agencies.”

Dorsey said that Metka has an “extensive criminal history,” with prior arrests for assault with a deadly weapon, carjacking, robbery, possession of an explosive devise and illegal firearms possession.

Metka was also arrested in 2021 at a gas station in Fontana, where he was allegedly found with several illegal firearms and pipe bombs, according to the Rialto Police Department.


© 2024 Los Angeles Times

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.