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Suspected Kidnapped Teen Fatally Shot by Deputies in Hesperia While Complying, Video Shows

HESPERIA, Calif. ( — The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department found itself amidst controversy after releasing a critical incident video from a deputy-involved shooting.

The incident took place on September 27, 2022, which tragically concluded with the death of a 15-year-old girl, Savannah Graziano, who was suspected of being kidnapped by her father, Anthony Graziano.

Following a violent sequence of events, Anthony Graziano killed Savannah’s mother outside a Fontana school, and the incident ended with Anthony and Savannah being killed after an exchange of gunfire with deputies following a high-speed pursuit.

The newly issued press release and video showcase the intensity and chaos that unfolded during the high-speed chase that led to this fatal outcome. Despite the suspected kidnapping, the teen was fatally shot by deputies as she ran towards them, seemingly seeking help.

The footage, released March 27, 2024, was obtained by journalist Joey Scott after a records request for the body camera footage was filed nearly 18 months ago.

The department had initially withheld specific details regarding the manner of the Graziano’s deaths, amid speculation and unverified claims that Savannah might have been involved in the shooting.

Until now, the release of the video was delayed due to a prior ransomware attack on the department’s systems, which hampered the delivery of requested information to the Department of Justice.

Sheriff Shannon Dicus stated, “I turned over the investigation to the Department of Justice (DOJ) pursuant to Assembly Bill 1506 (AB 1506). The DOJ requested materials and evidence from the Department, and after a delay due to a ransomware attack, we have complied fully as of March 29, 2024.”

The video, which contains disturbing footage and may be difficult for some to watch, begins with a narrator explaining, “this critical incident video details a deputy involved shooting that occurred on September 27th, 2022 at approximately 11:12 a.m.”

It captures the distressing events that started with the Amber Alert for Savannah Graziano.

Throughout the video, desperate 911 calls can be heard and a chase ensues when Graziano’s white 2017 Nissan Frontier pickup truck is spotted. As deputies pursued, shots were exchanged, with several deputy patrol cars being hit and one vehicle disabled.

Graziano’s pickup truck can be seen speeding recklessly with subsequent gunfire from the vehicle. A witness recounts, “I flipped the video and then I… caught the back end of him… I didn’t expect a gun to pop out shooting at me or at the cops.”

The final moments of the chase are harrowing as Graziano exits the freeway at Main Street in Hesperia attempting an escape over an embankment.

“When the pickup truck came to a stop Savannah exited from the passenger side towards a nearby Deputy. She was wearing tactical gear and a helmet,” the Sheriff’s Department said in a statement.

Amidst a severe miscommunication, deputies at a distance fired their weapons. A belt recording captures a deputy close to Savannah desperately calling her over and shouting to stop shooting, realizing that she was not a threat.

 “Passenger get out… come here, come here… hey stop, stop shooting!” he yells, but the incident tragically ends with Savannah being fatally wounded.

The internal review by the Sheriff’s Department, along with the California Department of Justice’s leading investigation, is yet to provide further clarity on the details of this incident.

This incident not only elevates concerns about the sheriff’s department’s use of deadly force but also joins a series of events that have cast a long shadow over the department’s recent operations.

The footage’s release adds pressure on a department already criticized for the shooting of Ryan Gainer, a 15-year-old autistic boy who was killed by deputies after charging at them with a garden tool during a mental health crisis.

Furthermore, a separate incident involving a deputy using excessive force on a man in Hesperia, as well as the resignation of a deputy for substance abuse, has compounded the negative view of department conduct. The sheriff’s department has also faced legal challenges, including wrongful death and wrongful arrest lawsuits in the preceding year.

While the Sheriff’s Department aspires for transparency and community information, the question remains as to how a potentially kidnapped teenager ended up fatally shot in a police operation intended for her rescue.

Sheriff Dicus urges the public to view the video in its entirety for insight while awaiting the Department of Justice’s independent investigation conclusions.

Please click the link to view the entire Critical Incident Video on YouTube:

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