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Man’s gun had no bullets when he was shot by police, CMPD chief says

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney on Friday said there were no bullets found in a gun carried by a man who police killed on Sept. 6 at a northeast Charlotte apartment building.

Rueben Galindo, 29, had called 911 and said he had a gun but no bullets. A dispatcher told officers that a Spanish-speaking man had called and wanted officers to help him.

When officers arrived, they ordered him to drop the handgun but he did not obey their commands, police said.

Putney said that he would have made the same decision to shoot as officers on the scene, who police have said perceived an imminent threat.

“In the split second, you’ve got to decide am I going to risk my life on the hope that a weapon isn’t loaded? And I’m not going to put myself in that position, nor am I going to require that my officers do so as well,” he said.

The two CMPD officers involved in the shooting, Courtney Suggs and David Guerra, have been placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure. CMPD spokesman Rob Tufano said Suggs and Guerra both fired their guns at the scene.

On his 911 call, Galindo said he had a gun and also repeatedly said he had no bullets.

“I don’t have bullets. I am telling you sincerely and clearly that I don’t have bullets,” he said.

In recordings of police radio released by CMPD, a dispatcher told officers that Galindo didn’t want to put the gun down and that he said it didn’t have bullets. A dispatcher and an interpreter worked together to talk to Galindo, who requested a Spanish speaker. They can be heard repeatedly asking Galindo to put his gun in a safe place and not to carry it with him when officers arrive.

During the 911 call, the Spanish-speaking interpreter talking with Galindo told the dispatcher that Galindo said he wanted to turn himself in. He said he had to go to court on Sept. 9.

The Sept. 9 date was slightly off, but Galindo was scheduled to go to court soon in connection with an April 2017 charge for assault by pointing a gun, records show.

Galindo’s family has said he was killed unjustly and that he wanted to surrender the weapon to police. They held a vigil in his memory two days after he was killed.

On the 911 call, Galindo does not appear to say he wants to turn a gun in, but he does repeatedly talk about wanting to turn himself in. He said he believes “the police are following me.”

Asked to put the gun down in a safe place during the 911 call, he said he would come out with his hands up. But he added that he didn’t have any bullets, making it unclear whether he understood the instructions to leave the gun behind.

“How am I going to leave it if I don’t know where they are?” he asked.

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