A screenshot of body camera footage released by the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office
A screenshot of body camera footage released by the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office after a deputy-involved shooting on April 6, 2021. This shot comes shortly before a deputy shot the suspect.
(Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office)
Latest News

WATCH: Sheriff releases graphic video of deputy-involved shooting in Aptos

The shooting occurred April 6 in the parking lot behind the Aptos Village Square shopping center. This video contains graphic images and language that may be disturbing to some. It begins with Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart’s summary of the incident.

Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart released graphic footage Wednesday of an officer-involved shooting in Aptos last week captured by body cameras worn by two deputies involved.

Around 10:50 p.m. on April 6, deputies were investigating a “suspicious vehicle” parked behind the Aptos Village Square shopping center at 7960 Soquel Drive in Aptos, Hart said. The car was registered to 40-year-old Eli Burry of Soquel and “despite illegally tinted windows,” Hart said the responding deputies could see two people inside.

Burry had a prior run-in with deputies and, according to the sheriff’s office, was free on bail while waiting for the resolution of a March 2020 case in which he faced narcotics and weapons charges stemming from an arrest at a Soquel residence.

The victim, 37-year-old Daniel Hartley, was found dead in the early hours of Jan. 17 near the 700 block of Emeline...

No businesses were open at the time of last week’s incident, and the sheriff’s office had received more than 20 calls for service in recent months related to trespassing, drug activity, suspicious activity and other incidents at the shopping center, Hart said.

On the night of the shooting, three deputies approached Burry’s car and asked him and his passenger to get out. The video footage shows that Burry refused to comply with deputies for several minutes. Deputies then saw him reach for “what appeared to be a weapon wedged in next to the driver’s seat.”

In the video, deputies can be heard saying, “If you reach for that, I will shoot you,” and then yelling “don’t reach for that.”

The gun used by suspect Eli Burry
The gun used by suspect Eli Burry during a deputy-involved shooting on April 6, 2021, according to the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office.
(Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office)

A deputy tased Burry, but the move was ineffective in getting him to comply. Officials say Burry then “grabbed a gun and fired it in an unknown direction.” The weapon Burry fired was a flare gun loaded with a shotgun shell, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

In the bodycam footage, Burry is then seen getting out of the car and advancing on the deputy who was giving him commands to get on the ground. At one point, Burry can be heard yelling “shoot me” multiple times while walking toward deputies and placing his hand under his jacket. When he continued to advance, a deputy who was on the other side of the car, fired five shots, striking Burry.

Officials say the deputies rendered medical aid until an ambulance arrived and transported Burry to the hospital. He sustained non-life-threatening injuries, according to the Sheriff’s Office. The deputies and the passenger were not injured in the incident.

Deputies found numerous weapons and drug paraphernalia in Burry’s car, and he faces “multiple felony charges” connected to last week’s incident, according to the sheriff’s office.

“When we have a serious use of force incident certain procedures and investigative steps to ensure an independent process are initiated,” Hart said.

The Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office is leading that investigation to determine if any laws were violated and the sheriff’s office is conducting its own separate internal affairs investigation to determine if any policies or procedures were violated.

The investigation is still in its early stages and could take “many weeks” to be completed, Hart said.

“But in the interest of being as open as possible with our community we wanted to share this video and what we know about this case at this time,” Hart said. “Our understanding of the incident could change based on new information.”

Burry’s previous arrest in March 2020 stemmed from a search warrant that detectives with the Narcotics Enforcement Team had served at a home in the 2700 block of South Main Street in Soquel. There, they found nearly one pound of methamphetamine as well as packaging and scales, according to a Sheriff’s Office Facebook post at the time.

Officers then also recovered 17 firearms, including 2 firearms classified as unregistered assault weapons, 2 shotguns, a number of handguns and more than 5,000 rounds of ammunition.

At the time, Burry was arrested on charges including possession of narcotics for sale, possession of a controlled substance while armed and other weapons-related charges, and his bail was set at $1 million.

WARNING: This video contains graphic images and language that may be disturbing to some. Viewer discretion is advised.

MAP: Here is where the shooting occurred:

Stay connected & support local journalism
We’re all about Santa Cruz County, from north to south and in-between. Members have unlimited access to our 24/7 local news coverage.