A San Luis Obispo man was transported to Cottage Hospital on Monday after police officers shot him with a less-lethal bean bag projectile in attempts to keep him from threatening community members with an improvised weapon, according to the Santa Barbara Police Department.
At about 7:30 a.m., officers responded to the area of State Street and Cabrillo Boulevard for a report of a man who was reported missing, appeared to be suffering from paranoia, and was asking community members for a gun, said Sgt. Ethan Ragsdale.
He added that, on the way to the call, officers learned that the man — identified as Dennis Ray Powell, 39 — had out-of-county misdemeanor warrants for his arrest .
Officers located Powell on Cabrillo Boulevard near Calle Cesar Chavez, and as they were communicating with him, he reached into a nearby trash can and removed a large glass bottle, Ragsdale said.
“The subject then purposefully broke the glass bottle on a nearby tree, holding the neck portion of the bottle with the sharp points brandished towards the officers in a menacing fashion,” he added.
After officers gave multiple verbal commands to have Powell drop the weapon, he fled east on Cabrillo, Ragsdale said.
Powell subsequently approached several community members who were walking on the bike path and brandished the broken bottle, causing the victims to run to the sand for safety, Ragsdale said.
He then attempted to arm himself with an additional glass bottle, he added.
“For an unknown reason, and without provocation, the suspect then approached an occupied parked vehicle and threatened the driver with the weapon,” Ragsdale said.
Powell forcefully struck the closed window of the car with serrated portions of the bottle several times while the driver was inside, he added.
The victim in the car was unharmed, but later informed officers that they “feared the subject would kill me,” Ragsdale said.
Officers attempted to detain Powell, but he fled again before turning towards the officers with the glass bottle in hand. An officer deployed one less-lethal bean bag projectile and struck the suspect as he was moving towards a populated area, according to Ragsdale.
“Officers were fearful if the less-lethal weapon was not used, the suspect would seriously harm a member of the public,” he said.
Powell immediately surrendered and was taken into custody before he was transported to Cottage Hospital for treatment of injuries caused by the less-lethal deployment, Ragsdale said, adding that officers on scene rendered aid to the suspect and called paramedics.
A police co-response officer was among those who responded to the call, according to Ragsdale.
Powell was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, a felony, and misdemeanor counts of vandalism, resisting or obstructing an officer, and brandishing a weapon, Ragsdale said.
He was to be booked into Santa Barbara County Jail.
The case is under investigation, and the Police Department requests that any other unidentified victims or witnesses to the incident call police detectives at 805.897.2347.
— Noozhawk staff writer Jade Martinez-Pogue can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.