The County District Attorney’s office announced last week that a deputy-involved shooting of a Yucca Valley man in 2018 was justified. Roger Tindell, 38, went to a home in the 7400 block of Elk Trail in Yucca Valley about 2 a.m. October 17, 2018, and shot Jonathan Lakes in the head, before fleeing with his girlfriend. Deputies located Tindell’s vehicle on Highway 62 and pursued him to Morongo Valley. During the pursuit, Tindell live-streamed the pursuit and stopped his car and fired eight shots at deputies before crashing into a Sheriff’s patrol car. Tindell was shot five times during an exchange of gunfire.
He pleaded guilty to two charges of attempted murder on a police officer and one count of attempted murder of Jonathan Lakes. Tindell was sentenced to 35 years to life in prison. Roger Tindell was extradited to Nevada in July where he will be tried for the murders of 40-year-old Robin McComb and 28-year-old Mellisa Mason, whose bodies were found in a Henderson home a week before the shooting in Yucca Valley.
SYNOPSIS FROM THE SAN BERNARDINO DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE:
On October 17, 2018, deputies from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department were in a pre-shift briefing when they received information that a double homicide suspect, Roger Tindell, was possibly in the Yucca Valley area. The deputies were told Mr. Tindell might be driving a Chevrolet Tahoe or Suburban, and he may have a 9mm handgun.
Later in their shift, at about 2:14 in the morning, deputies from the sheriff’s department were dispatched to a shooting in the 7400 block of Elk Trail, in the town of Yucca Valley. When deputies arrived, they located a witness and a victim, who had a gunshot wound to the head. The witness told the deputies that the suspect (Mr. Tindell) had left the scene in the victim’s grey BMW, with Mr. Tindell’s pregnant girlfriend.
At about 2:51 am, a deputy spotted the grey BMW traveling west on Highway 62, about a 1/2 mile from where the shooting had occurred. After an additional deputy arrived, they tried to stop the BMW. Mr. Tindell did not yield, and a pursuit ensued.
Mr. Tindell stopped the BMW in front of a residence in the 10000 block of San Jacinto Street. Mr. Tindell pointed a handgun and fired multiple rounds towards the residence, while his girlfriend was inside the BMW. One of the deputies who had been pursuing Mr. Tindell used his Mini-14 rifle and fired two rounds at Mr. Tindell. Mr. Tindell drove away from the residence and the deputies. The deputies continued their pursuit after Mr. Tindell.
As the pursuit continued, a handgun was fired from the BMW’s side door window. It was believed Mr. Tindell shot at the pursuing deputies, as the deputies could see muzzle flashes and hear gunshots.
As Mr. Tindell drove south on San Jacinto Street, a sheriff’s sergeant traveled north on the same road, approaching the pursuit. The sergeant swerved to avoid a head-on collision with Mr. Tindell. Mr. Tindell swerved towards the sergeant’s patrol vehicle, crashing into it, and then into a fire hydrant.
With his vehicle disabled, Mr. Tindell fired his handgun out the window, with his girlfriend still in the vehicle. The deputies ordered Mr. Tindell to show them his hands, but he did not comply. The deputies fired multiple rounds at Mr. Tindell, striking him in the arm and behind the left ear.
The deputies were able to take Mr. Tindell into custody. He was treated at the scene and transported to a local hospital.
Criminal charges were filed against Mr. Tindell by the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office for violation of the following sections of the California Penal Code:
Penal Code Section 664/187(a) – Attempted Murder
Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought.
Penal Code Section 664/187(a) – Attempted Murder of A Peace Officer
On December 20, 2019, Mr. Tindell was sentenced to 32 years-to-life in prison.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department investigated this shooting. A review of the investigation, reports, evidence, and statements was completed by the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office.
Based on the facts presented in the reports and the applicable law, our office concluded that the officers’ use of lethal force was a proper exercise of their rights of self-defense and defense of others, and their actions were legally justified.
WHAT THE PUBLIC SHOULD KNOW
By providing a thorough explanation to the community regarding the review of officer-involved shootings, it is the intention of District Attorney Jason Anderson and the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office to maintain the community’s confidence and trust in its law enforcement officers and district attorney’s office.
Key Points of This Incident:
- Deputies received information that Mr. Tindell was wanted for killing two people in Nevada and that he may be in their patrol area
- Deputies responded to a call of a shooting. They located a victim with a gunshot wound to the head, whom Mr. Tindell had shot
- Mr. Tindell led deputies on a vehicle pursuit when they tried to stop him
- Mr. Tindell stopped in front of a residence and shot at it with his handgun
- Deputies attempted to stop Mr. Tindell fled by firing at him. Mr. Tindell drove away from them and the residence
- While in pursuit, gunshots were fired at the pursuing deputies from Mr. Tindell’s vehicle
- Mr. Tindell crashed into a patrol car and then into a fire hydrant
- Mr. Tindell fired his handgun out the window and refused to comply with deputies commands
- Mr. Tindell was shot by deputies, bringing a conclusion to this incident
Deputy sheriffs are trained to respond to these types of situations, and they continually update their training as new situations and techniques are identified.
Additionally, deputy sheriffs have equipment on their belts, vests, and vehicles, which they use to complete their duties.
Deputy sheriffs are expected and authorized to use the equipment to protect themselves and others from suffering injuries or death. To some, watching a deputy sheriff using physical force against another person can be upsetting or disturbing.
Deputy sheriffs prefer to use the least amount of force, whether it be their mere presence or verbal commands, to diffuse situations. However, there are situations, such as this incident, in which deadly force is necessary for the community’s safety and the deputy sheriffs’ safety.
In rapidly tense situations, deputies do not have a great deal of time planning, revising, or analyzing a crisis, such as readers of this article. When a situation evolves, deputies must make the best decisions possible to protect and save lives in a condensed amount of time.
The community expects that the people they call upon to protect them, which is the sheriff’s department in this situation, will not back down, be intimidated, or run scared when danger presents itself.
When law enforcement receives a call of a gunshot victim, it is their obligation to respond to the scene and render immediate life-saving aid to the victims, ensure the location is safe from any further danger, and to initiate an investigation to determine the identity of the person responsible for the crime. If the situation presents itself, law enforcement will also arrest those responsible for the crime as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, not every call is the same to the deputies responding to the call. The deputies may encounter different obstacles on each call and must quickly assess and render an immediate solution to overcome those obstacles.
On October 17, 2018, Mr. Tindell made the decision to shoot a person and then flee the scene. When law enforcement attempted to stop Mr. Tindell, he decided to speed away from them, to elude capture.
Mr. Tindell then decided to stop his vehicle in front of a residence and open fire with a handgun, with his girlfriend inside the BMW. In an effort to save lives, a deputy sheriff fired his weapon towards Mr. Tindell, to put an end to his rampage.
Mr. Tindell decided not to surrender to law enforcement, but rather, sped off again, leading the deputies on a pursuit. While traveling on the roadway, Mr. Tindell then decided to drive his vehicle into an oncoming patrol car. After crashing into the patrol car and a fire hydrant, Mr. Tindell chose to continue to use his handgun to fire rounds out of his vehicle.
Based on Mr. Tindell’s decisions, it was necessary for the deputy sheriffs to shoot their weapons at Mr. Tindell, which brought Mr. Tindell’s actions to conclusion.
Mr. Tindell placed the lives of many people in jeopardy that day, to include the lives of the deputy sheriffs who were attempting to stop him. Mr. Tindell is responsible for everything that occurred on October 17, 2018.