Pride dancer shot dead by police had taken drugs

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A man shot and killed by police in San Diego after he jumped from a cruise ship which was hosting a gay Pride party had taken drugs, according to an autopsy report.

Steven Paul Hirschfield, 37, from Los Angeles, had been hired to dance at a yacht party, part of last month’s Pride celebrations.

He was reportedly shot when he fought with the police officers who had rescued him.

The Harbour Police were called after he jumped from the yacht and a police boat found Mr Hirschfield about 500ft south of the US Coast Guard Air Station.

Hirschfield boarded the boat and reportedly began fighting the two officers on board, knocking one to the deck and grabbing his gun.

“Toxicology examination detected the presence of methamphetamine, doxylamine, and trace ketamine in his blood,” the coroner’s report read.

“No alcohol, other common drugs of abuse including gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) and phencyclidine (PCP), or common basic or acid/neutral medications were detected.

“The decedent died of a perforating gunshot wound of his right chest cavity. The cause of death is listed as gunshot wound of chest.

“The manner of death is classified as homicide.”

Mr Hirschfield’s parents have filed a $20m (£10.9m) lawsuit against the police department.

“The police officer who executed Steven Hirschfield shot him from behind,” lawyer Brian Claypool said, according to NBC San Diego.

“It is our belief, based on a witness account and information learned through the autopsy performed by the San Diego County coroner, that Mr. Hirschfield was not the aggressor and was not involved in a brawl with police officers prior to being executed by this police officer.

“It is our heartfelt belief that the manner in which this police officer handled this situation is consistent with somebody who might hold some preconceived notions against gay people.”

The coroner said that the “gunshot entrance wound is located on the right midback.”

The coroner’s report states:

“Approximately 10 minutes into the cruise (Mr Hirschfield) jumped overboard.

“Staff of the cruise ship attempted to rescue him, but he refused assistance. San Diego Harbour Patrol was called where he continued to resist getting onboard ship.

“A struggle ensued between the San Diego Harbour Patrol Officer and the decedent, and at some point the officer told his partner that the decedent had grabbed his gun.

“He was then shot by the on duty Harbour Patrol Officer. He was pronounced dead at the scene via radio contact with a local hospital.”

A police spokesman said that the officers acted appropriately.