Family of Dancer Shot at San Diego Pride to Sue Police

The family of Steven Hirschfield, the dancer on a San Diego gay pride party boat who was shot and killed by police who claim he resisted rescue attempts and seized an officer’s weapon, says they don’t believe the officers’ accounts and plan to sue.

Hirschfield_3The family’s lawyer calls the police version of events a “complete fabrication”: “The officer who shot him had a Taser – why didn’t he use it? And if he was in a brawl, why isn’t there more evidence of that? There was very little scratching or bruising on his body.”

KNBC: “Results of an autopsy released Monday showed he died from a gunshot wound to the chest. Claypool said medical examiners confirmed Hirschfield was shot in the back and his family believes officers acted with “excessive force” and disputes accounts given by police. ‘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,’ [their] attorney [Brian Claypool] said.”

According to a witness, there was a former Marine in the water attempting to rescue Hirschfield who has not yet been contacted by the family’s attorney.

“Claypool said his suit would seek punitive damages from the Harbor Police Department. He told KNSD-TV he was first contacted about the case by a civil rights watchdog group that monitors alleged police brutality matters. I think this is a gay-rights issue,’ Claypool said.”

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  1. lame says

    here we go again – it’s a “gay rights issue” – sexuality has nothing to do with this – this guy was cracked out and crazy… this isn’t any different than black people trying to play the race card for everywhere – pathetic to stoop to this level once again.

    Let’s see the toxicology reports on this one.

  2. WOW says

    So since when is getting shot after grabbing for an officers weapon (taser or gun…whichever it may be) a gay rights issue?

    Sure it’s tragic he’s dead…but come on.

  3. Mark says

    I believe the story here is that the family of the victim doesn’t believe the officer’s accounts of what transpired and the case is being made that the physical evidence supports their belief.

    i would guess that t would be considered a gay rights issue since one (the police) might assume that it’s a scantily clad GAY man off of a GAY cruise on GAY pride weekend.

    I won’t even go there with LAME’s lame comment…

  4. Derek says

    I think Lame’s mother was cracked out when he was conceived – it sure explains a lot.

  5. Brian says

    Well the police account sounds more creditable. The dancer would not get back into the boat he fell off of. They waited 30 min so they called the Coast Guard. This guy was drugged up. But I guess this is why we have a court system. Let them investigate

  6. Jim says

    “The officer who shot him had a Taser – why didn’t he use it?”

    I can think of two excellent reasons, right off the top of my head:

    1) Hirshfield stole the taser, and was busily using it to beat the cop in the face with; and

    2) Assuming another taser was handy…the assailant was wet. The boat undoubtably had water in it from the rescue, which everyone was likely ankle-deep standing in. Electricity + water = electrocution for everyone on board the boat.

    “And if he was in a brawl, why isn’t there more evidence of that?”

    I’d say the police officer who went to the hospital with taser bash marks on his face provide pretty convincing evidence of a brawl.

    This is a facsinating incident. I agree with most everyone else here the toxicology report will be critical in assigning responsibility. And thanks to this legal action, you can bet if it comes back positive for drugs and hence exonerates the cops, the cops will make these toxicology results VERY public.

  7. Jimmyboyo says

    “shot in the back”


    that raises an alram bell

    Police lie, police kill, police, can be homopbbic/ have been in the past, police are falable human beings


    America has a LONGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG history of polce brutaity towards black men for no other reason than they were/ are black. Stop sitting around in your kkk robes jerking off

  8. nikko says

    He appeared in straight porn (I’ve seen some pics). He was a straight go-go boy, like many dancers. The rest, well, where are the witnesses about the incidence??! Tragic, pathetic.

  9. Jim says

    “”shot in the back”


    that raises an alram bell”

    I’m not sure why you would think so. After all, the assailant was busy pummelling a cop in the face with a taser, so, naturally, he would have to be facing the victim cop…meaning he would not be facing the other cop.

    So, “shot in the back” supports the police version of events.

    Like I said, the toxicology report will be interesting.

  10. paul says

    A white guy was shot, and now people who believe the police version of the incident are klansmen, Jimmyboyo? Nice illogical, irrational jump.

    I notice that the family’s lawyer already has his sights set on punitive damages. Get that money, America!! I’m simple-minded because I would just be focused on a possible criminal investigation at this point if it were my family member who had been shot.

  11. paul says

    Jimmyboyo, my bad. I actually missed half of Lame’s comment. I see that he did bring race into it, so it wasn’t quite the jump in his case as I thought.

  12. Derrick from Philly says


    JIMMY was referring to the comment by LAME, “…blacks trying to play the race card everywhere…”

    I don’t know exactly what “everywhere” he’s talking about. Maybe he’s referring to future President Obama playing the race card in Berlin or Gay Paris today!

  13. Derrick from Philly says


    my bad. I opened my mouth and on to my keyboard before you posted your last comment. Oh, well, you know I’ve got to defend my fellow Piscean–even if he is 20 years younger than me with a full head o’ hair. (jealous, I is)

    It’s all LAMEBRAIN’S fault anyway.

  14. Yeek says

    The toxicology report will be interesting, perhaps, but it should neither exonerate nor implicate the police. The dancer’s behavior and the danger to the officers is the only standard by which their actions should be judged.

  15. G wiz... says

    “Assuming another taser was handy…the assailant was wet. The boat undoubtably had water in it from the rescue, which everyone was likely ankle-deep standing in. Electricity + water = electrocution for everyone on board the boat.”

    Jim do you actually know how a taser works? Ever see the demonstrations when two people HOLD a third person being tasered? The reason they can SAFELY hold that person is because it does not produce enough voltage to pass into other people let alone electrocute “everyone” on board.

    And don’t get me started on how a boat that size would be filled “ankle deep” with water when only one or two people came out of the water?

  16. Jim says

    G Wiz, I think you are overlooking the fact that water, salt water in particular, is an extremely efficient conduit for electricity.

    A friend of mine is a an electrical engineer, and he verified this to me: “You couldn’t pay me to taser a guy in a boat, dripping with sea water like that – I’d have as much chance of stunning myself as I would the target.”

    And it looks like Hirshfield’s lawyer lied about the “shooting in the back” accusation:

    “However, Paul Parker, chief investigator for the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office, reiterated Friday afternoon that Hirschfield was shot in the chest, as stated on his death certificate.”

  17. Karl says

    Anytime someone most likely on meth or PCP assaults a police officer and tries to take his gun, he can only expect such behavior to be met with lethal force.

    These cops have made a promise to their wives, partners, children and families to come home alive at the end of their shifts. There is no time to anaylze the motives of an assailant.

    Don’t blame the police. Blame the permissive attitude in the gay community towards alcohol and widespead use of drugs.