Review board: Kern Co. deputy was wrong for shooting gun

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) A Kern County deputy improperly fired his gun earlier this month during a pursuit, the sheriff's office said Monday.

Deputy Chris Strunc, a three-year veteran, shot three rounds at the suspects' Chevrolet Blazer on Jan. 3.

Strunc attempted a traffic stop around 11 p.m. that night for unspecified code violations in the area of Tucker Road and Highline Road in Tehachapi. The suspects, described only as two white men, wouldn't stop, and the chase began.

About three minutes into the pursuit, the suspects rammed the deputy's patrol car, and Strunc responded by shooting three rounds at the Blazer.

The Blazer was later found abandoned in a field in the Golden Hills area.

An incident review board convened last week to review the deputy's weapon discharge. The review board consisted of Chief Deputy Francis Moore, Chief Deputy David Nelson and Chief Deputy Kevin Zimmermann.

In an unusual outcome, the board "determined that the use of force by Deputy Strunc was not within sheriff's office policy," it announced Monday in a news release. The sheriff's office refused an Eyewitness News request for additional comments, saying the investigation was ongoing.

The sheriff's office didn't say whether Strunc could face prosecution or if this is purely an administrative issue.

Some Kern County residents have been critical of local law enforcement agencies during recent officer-involved shootings, saying the agencies investigate their own and rarely find the officer at fault.