Sheriff’s deputies responding to a domestic disturbance call at a residence on Via Gennita on 3/6 fatally shot resident Donald George after he failed to comply with the deputies’ requests that he drop a gun he was holding. At one point, George pointed the weapon directly at a deputy. The three deputies, who are currently on administrative leave, fired 11 rounds, striking George several times. George died during surgery at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. Neighbors claimed George had been suffering with a brain tumor, and that this had made him despondent as of late, but to what degree his medical condition could have influenced his actions remains unclear.
At a press conference the following day, Sheriff Bill Brown confirmed that George’s gun was loaded at the time. Though Brown said investigators did not know enough to say whether the incident constituted an instance of “suicide by cop,” he could verify that the officers had acted appropriately given the situation, noting that public safety is always a priority when a person is wielding a gun. “This is something that they’re having to make split-second decisions on, and in this case it was very, very tragic and very, very unfortunate, but all indications are that they acted appropriately,” Brown said. Finally, Brown noted that there had been no indication of prior domestic troubles at George’s house.
CLARIFICATION: The Independent would like to clarify that though the Sheriff’s Department termed the incident that initially drew them the George’s home as a domestic disturbance, Mrs. George’s call resulted from her wanting to prevent her husband’s suicide and not spousal abuse or other kind of domestic violence more often associated with the term “domestic disturbance.”