SBPD releases video of fatal January shooting

On Jan. 16, Seal Beach officers used deadly force

File photo

The Seal Beach Police Department recently released 911 audio and body cam video for the fatal officer involved shooting of Jan. 16, 2023. The “critical incident community briefing” video was posted on the SBPD’s YouTube page and was age-restricted by the uploader. That means you’ll have to register through Google to watch the video. The entire video is 11 minutes 50 seconds long.

The video of the shooting itself includes captions. However, some of those captions are at the bottom of the video and difficult to read.

The video was introduced by Chief Michael Henderson.

“These incidents demand the highest level of scrutiny and rightly are a matter of public concern,” Henderson said.

In the video he said the investigation of this shooting is still on-going and could take up to one year to complete.

“With that in mind, we withhold judgment and do not draw any conclusions about whether or not our officers acted within our policies and in accordance with the law until after all the facts are known and the investigations are complete,” Henderson said.

He warned viewers that the video could be graphic and difficult to watch. He said viewer discretion was advised, especially for young children and sensitive viewers.

The chief was followed by Capt. Nick Nicholas, of the SBPD Internal Affairs Division, who provided an overview of the incident on the 100 block of Old Ranch Road on Jan. 16, 2023.

According to Nicholas, at about 9:36 p.m., the SBPD Communications Center received a 911 call from a female indicating there was a suspicious person outside her residence. According to Nicholas, she was home with her young children and reported that an unknown person was yelling and kicking her front door.

The video then played what Nicholas described as a portion of the call. The audio portion of the video included captions of the conversation between the caller and the dispatcher.

Woman: “There’s somebody banging on my door.”

The dispatcher asked for her address. The caller provided the address, which was removed from the video.

Dispatcher: “Are they saying anything?”

“Screaming open up, open up.”

“It’s a male?”

“Yes,” the caller said. “He’s kicking the door right now.”

“Hang on just a second.”

The dispatcher asked the caller for her name, which she provided. The name was removed from the recording.

“Do you have a camera or anything? Are you able to see the person?”

“No, I just see shadows going back and forth on the house.”

“And who are you home with, ma’am?”

“Oh my God, he’s at my front door now.” The caller then said: “My two kids.”


The dispatcher asked how old the kids were.

“Oh God.”

“Ma’am? How old?”

“He’s kicking my door in.”

“Officers are on their way. I’m just going to keep you on the line with me so you can keep me updated as to what is going on, Okay?”

The dispatcher asked for her phone number in case they got disconnected. The caller provided her phone number, which was removed from the audio.

The caller said something.

“You have what?”

“I have a gun, but it’s locked up. I was asleep.”


“I can’t get it now.”

“Okay,” the dispatcher said. “If you decide you’re gonna go get that, let me know, okay?”

“I’m not. My kids are on the second floor (inaudible).”

“And you’re not expecting anybody over?”

“Absolutely not.”


“Oh God, he’s walking on the patio.”

“He’s on the patio now?”

“On my front door.”

“Is he saying anything?”

“Now he’s back at the front door.”

Dispatcher: “Now he’s back at the front door?”

Woman: “Yes.”

“Okay. An officer’s pulling up right now.”

“The police are here you guys. You’re safe. I promise, okay?”


“Okay? I promise. I don’t know who’s at the door (inaudible) but the police are here.”

Then the caller said: “Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!”

“What? What, ma’am?”

“I see him. I see him! I see … the cops are shining a light on him right now.”

“Okay. Alright. So they’re there.”

“I don’t know who this guy is.”

“Is the officer talking to him?”

“Oh my gosh. Um, yes, and I know who it is. I have a restraining order against him.”

“I need to call my husband to come get my kids.”

“Who is it, ma’am?”

“I’m pretty sure it’s my ex.”

“Okay, so you didn’t think it was him from the beginning?”

“No. It doesn’t look like him at all.”

At this point in the video, Capt. Nicholas appears on screen again. “Based on the information the caller provided, officers were immediately dispatched and arrived a short time later,” Nicholas said.

“The primary officer exited his vehicle and approached the home on foot. As he got closer to the residence, the primary officer observed a male, pictured here—” A photograph of the man in question appeared on the screen.

“—later identified as Michael Bernard Emch Jr., standing within an enclosed patio adjacent to the front door of the residence,” Nicholas said.

The photo shown on the screen identified Emch as a 47-year-old Irvine resident.

Capt. Nicholas went on to say that all Seal Beach police patrol officers are equipped with body worn cameras. Nicholas said per policy, all body worn cameras must be placed in a forward position “that facilitates comprehensive records of contacts and or incidents.”

He said it was important to keep in mind that body cameras are investigative tools and like any device, they have limitations. “Body worn cameras do not necessarily capture everything an officer sees, just like a body worn camera may capture something an officer does not see,” Nicholas said.

“Further, body worn cameras do not have the ability to depict what an officer is feeling or experiencing during a given incident,” Nicholas said.

“The primary officer contacted Mr. Emch by calling out to him. He requested Mr. Emch make his hands visible and exit the patio. Mr. Emch stated he did not have to show his hands and initially refused to come out from behind the patio wall,” Nicholas said.

“He eventually emerged from the patio and became confrontational with the officer. Mr. Emch was given multiple commands to be seated and make his hands visible, however, he repeatedly refused to follow all lawful orders,” Nicholas said.

“At one point, Mr. Emch completely disregarded the instructions he was given when he placed his hand in his jacket pocket and walked away from the officer back toward the enclosed patio and front door of the residence,” Nicholas said.

“The primary officer repeatedly ordered Mr. Emch to remove his hand from his pocket. However, he ignored the officer’s order and refused to comply. He then re-entered the enclosed patio and walked toward the front door of the residence,” Nicholas said.

“In response to Mr. Emch’s actions, the secondary officer deployed a taser-conducted energy weapon,” Nicholas said.

“This caused him to fall to the ground,” Nicholas said.

“The taser cycle terminated, at which time Mr. Emch produced a black handgun,” Nicholas said.

“At that time, an officer involved shooting occurred,” he said.

Nicholas then introduced the footage from the primary officer’s body worn camera.

The video showed the beam of the officer’s flashlight looking through the area.

A man’s head could barely be seen above the wall of the patio.

Officer: “Yeah, who are you?”

The answer could not be heard.

Officer: “Who? Who are you?”

“I said do not shine that light in my eyes.”

Officer: “Yeah, I don’t know who you are. I can’t see your hands.”

“I don’t need [to] show you my hands. I need to see” the name was removed from the audio.

Officer: “I can’t hear you.”

Some of the next exchange was inaudible.

“Are you here to look for (name removed)?”


“Okay. I’m looking for (name removed), too.”

“Okay. Who are you?”

“I’m Mike.”

The officer asked if he had a relationship to the caller.

Emch said he was there to get money from her. “She owes me,” Emch said.

“Okay, well come out here,” the officer said. “She doesn’t want you here. No, she’s telling, she’s calling us.”

“She told me to come here.”

“Okay, well get out of here.”

Emch came off the patio. The officer drew his gun. For a moment, the gun blocked the camera’s view of the man.

Officer: “Put your hands up, I can’t see hands.”

Officer: “Have a seat.”

“Nope. I’ll go the other way then.”

“No you won’t.”

Emch: “Call, call your staff sergeant.

The officer ordered him to sit down.

Emch replied with an expletive.

“You call yourself—”

Emch turned his back and put his right hand in his jacket pocket.

“Get your hands out of your pocket now.”

The officer repeated the command more than once, yelling the command more loudly each time.

Emch’s replies were inaudible as he walked into the patio and out of the view of the camera.

“On the ground! On the ground! Taser! Taser! Taser!”

Emch could be heard crying out.

The primary officer approached the patio. Emch was on the ground. He pulled a handgun out of his pocket. The primary officer fired.

Someone yelled, “Hands, hands.”

The primary officer reloaded his gun.

Someone yelled, “Don’t reach for that gun.”

The officer reported shots fired.

Dispatch confirmed receiving the message.

An officer said: “Are you good?” “Yeah, I’m good, I’m good.”

The primary officer radioed “start medics and supervisor.”

Emch said: “Finish me off.”

An officer said: “Shut up.”

Nicholas then introduced a segment of the body camera footage at reduced speed “along with still images taken from the same camera.”

On the reduced-speed version of the body cam footage, a red arrow points to the gun in Emch’s hand. Then the video showed photographs of the handgun.

“The weapon was loaded at the time of this incident,” Nicholas said.

“Two Seal Beach officers fired their weapons in connection with this incident,” Nicholas said.

“Additionally, spent shell casings of the same caliber weapon Mr. Emch possessed and shell casings of a different caliber from the officers’ weapons were located at the scene,” Nicholas said.

“Shortly after the officer involved shooting occurred and when the scene was safe, officers began rendering medical aid to Mr. Emch, including the application of a tourniquet,” Nicholas said.

“An Orange County Authority paramedic team responded to the scene and assumed care. Mr. Emch was transported to a local hospital, where he passed away,” Nicholas said.

“As officers rendered aid to Mr. Emch, a search was conducted for additional weapons,” Nicholas said.

“As a result of the search a pointed metal weapon and three knives were located on this person,” Nicholas said.

“Additionally, a loaded magazine was located on Mr. Emch at the hospital,” Nicholas said.

“A subsequent investigation revealed there was a valid and served restraining order protecting the calling party in this incident,” Nicholas said.

“The protective order prohibited Mr. Emch from coming within 100 yards of the calling party in her residence and prohibited him from having any contact with her whatsoever,” Nicholas said.

Chief Henderson then appeared on the screen. “In the city of Seal Beach, when a critical incident such as an officer-involved shooting occurs, several investigations are immediately initiated,” Henderson said.

“The Orange County District Attorney’s Office conducts an investigation to determine whether the involved officers’ actions were within the law,” Henderson said.

“The Seal Beach Police Department’s Detective Bureau investigates criminal conduct of any potential suspects prior to or during the incident,” Henderson said.

“Finally, our Internal Affairs Division examines any areas where improvements can be made and determines whether the actions of the involved officers were within policy and consistent with our training,”  Henderson said.