SANTA CRUZ, Ca.- Police responded to several calls from neighbors near the 700 block of Pacific Avenue Saturday morning about a man believed to be in violation of state-enforced water restrictions. Officers from the Santa Cruz Police Department arrived on the scene to find thirty-two year old Doug Rattman, a local resident, washing his van, a green Volkswagen camper, with a hose.
After approaching Rattman from a safe distance, officers were able to determine he was using a hose without a self-closing nozzle, which is forbidden under the city’s water restrictions. Detective Cave Johnson, who arrived shortly after first-responders, said, “Officers made several unsuccessful attempts to communicate with Mr. Rattman, who was well aware of their presence but chose not to acknowledge them.”
Police began to close the distance between themselves and Rattman, at which point, according to Detective Johnson, they ordered Rattman to drop the hose. “Mr. Rattman was asked three times to put down the hose and turn the water off. He did not comply.” Police say Mr. Rattman instead turned toward them “in a threatening manner,” aimed the hose at the officers, and sprayed them with it. It was then that police opened fire, killing Rattman.
A neighbor who lives across the street from Rattman and asked to be identified only as “Caroline,” described him as a loner. “He was always coming and going at odd hours, particularly late at night. Occasionally we’d see him with a surf board.”
Parts of California are suffering from a prolonged drought, causing many cities to impose moderate restrictions on water usage in an effort to conserve what little is available. Santa Cruz recently lifted Mandatory Stage 3 water restrictions but still maintains strict regulations on public use of water.