David Jordan Took 9 Years to Talk, But Dreamed Big

The young man reportedly struggling with depression was fatally shot by Long Beach police. At 20, he was saving in piggy banks for his future and learning skills others take for granted.

David Jordan was saving for a future he dreamed of--but could not readily put to words.

At age 8, he received two piggy banks in which to save his chore earnings. His grandmother and others were only able to teach him to speak at age 9. He struggled and with special education help from Long Beach Unified School District, and a private advocate, he proudly graduated Lakewood High School.

"I homeschooled him for three years," said his grandmother who raised him, who only gave her name as Mrs. Jordan. "He had to work very hard and it took a lot of patience from everyone. It took a lot of love. It took a lot of love."

Born with autism, Jordan, 20, is now tragically deceased, having been shot by a Long Beach police officer in his family's kitchen. Earlier, he'd yelled that he wanted cops to kill him, clutched a knife and his grandmother called 9-1-1 for help.

On this much, police and the Jordan family can agree.

As investigations continue into the officer-involved shooting in the 1900 block of East Hardwick Avenue, his family grieved over his death by what they said were three bullets to the chest.

On Monday, his grandmother spoke to Patch before she was headed out to be with David's body for the first time since Sept. 11. She'd had 15 seconds with him after he died, she said. After the private visitation, she would be picking out his burial clothes--all white. 

"Because he was pure," she said.

David was a baptized Mormon and member of the Church of Jesus Christ of LDS (Latter Day Saints). That's where his viewing will be held at 9 a.m. Saturday, his grandmother said. A funeral will follow at the church at 10 a.m.

Mrs. Jordan said she encouraged those who knew David--from Lakewood High, where he'd managed to graduate in five years with the help of special education courses, and from Cypress College, where he was currently enrolled in continuing education courses -- to attend services. She said his life story will be shared in pictures, and a eulogy.

On Tuesday, David's special education advocate, Steven Figueroa, spoke of him fondly and said it had been a pleasure to work with him since he was 17.

David had been at Jordan High but Figueroa quickly helped get him to Lakewood High School, where the school's particular services better served his needs.

"I enjoyed working with David because he showed so much promise," said Figueroa, 51, who has advocated for students since 1985. "He had hopes and dreams."

His June 2012 graduation, which was captured in the attached photograph, was a huge source of pride for him. In another picture, he is standing over a graduation cake, sporting a chef hat.

It was fitting, Figueroa said. "David wanted to be a culinary specialist, to learn how to cook food. He wanted to be a chef."

Yes, he said, it was pretty ambitious. Then again, David had managed to get through high school just years after learning to speak. He had 'Rainman' qualities like Dustin Hoffman's character in the movie, Figueroa said. But David, he said, wanted more.

"There's a 50% drop-out rate for Hispanics," which was David's heritage, Figueroa said. "And he had autism. The district offered him other non-diploma tracts. But he wanted to graduate."

 David was always saving, he and his family said. Before he could talk he would point and use his hands to express himself. He also drew art. He liked to talk, especially about what he liked. He would fixate on one thing and talk endlessly about it, Figueroa said, adding that he rarely watched TV.

At 19, David began the painstaking task of learning how to get from one place to another on his own. The school district provided a mobility specialist. "He had trouble with money. And he had to know how much change he got back. He had difficulty understanding how much he had. Each try, the teacher picked him up, got him on the bus, he had to have a specific routine, "and they have to do it over and over and over," said Figueroa.

"That took almost a year. Because one of the characteristics of autism is they get disoriented easily. And that's why they need routine. And if they do anything different they get thrown off. But David did learn it."

Figueroa said he found endearing David's "love for his grandma, his wanting to protect her," and "his air of innocence. He was just a simple guy, good natured. So kind. He couldn't hurt an ant."

Mrs. Jordan, the grandmother who adopted and raised him, recalled how one of his two piggy banks was stolen in a burglary of their home, and a couple of years later, police returned with one of them, though it was roughed up. At one point when the family couldn't pay their utility bill, the power was shut off, and despite frantically working with the utility to restore it, but with a lack of heat for a few days, David's pet iguana died. He loved animals, and it was traumatic, yet he soldiered on.

Figueroa said he did not see depression in David Jordan. But it may have been a new behavior based on medication. Figueroa hadn't seen him in a few months-- he'd been hospitalized for 32 days following quadruple heart bypass surgery, he said. So he wasn't current on David's medication.

Having graduated high school in June, Figueroa observed, David Jordan "was no longer in that routine. So that structure and support had suddenly changed, and now he is in a new world and has to learn a new coping strategy."

Non-credit classes at Cypress College had just begun Sept. 10, the day before his death, and he returned home Sept. 11 early from school, via bus, not feeling well, his grandmother said. A prior medication caused liver trouble but a replacement medicine was not relieving his depression, the family said.

His grandmother said he'd reached anguished lows at times before from depression, but fearfully would resist going to a hospital to be medically supervised when he became overwhelmed and "wanted to see God," in his childlike notion of removing his pain by going to Heaven.

On Tuesday, she said she was trying to console herself in her faith that David's in peace. "He's beside God now, with someone who loves and understands him."

John B. Greet September 19, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Thanks again for bringing more of the story of David Jordan's life to your readers, Nancy.
Mike Ruehle September 19, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Long Beach police CLAIM Jordan attacked them with a knife and they shot him. When he continued to attack, they shot him again. That's not what witnesses said, who heard back-to-back shots with no pause between. The police press release made it appear there were only two shots fired. We are now learning police shot 6 times, three of which struck Jordan. Police are saying they performed CPR on Jordan after shooting him. What they aren't telling you is CPR stands for "capital punishment for resistance." Police are refusing to release the 911 tapes or identify the officer who killed Jordan. Why??? What do they have to hide?
John B. Greet September 19, 2012 at 06:21 PM
"The police press release made it appear there were only two shots fired." Perhaps it appeared that way to you, Ruehle, and perhaps to others as pre-disposed as you are to leap to assumptions and knee-jerk condemnations, but the press release did not address the number of shots fired. Not in any sense or to any degree. "Police are saying they performed CPR on Jordan after shooting him. What they aren't telling you is CPR stands for 'capital punishment for resistance.' " So even when police immediately transition from "stop the threat" to "try to save a life" you have nothing but aspersions to cast, is that about right, Ruehle? If they hadn't attempted CPR, you would no doubt be condemning them for not having done so. On Planet Ruehle the police can do no right, and you can think no wrong. "Police are refusing to release the 911 tapes or identify the officer who killed Jordan. Why??? What do they have to hide?" The 911 recordings are public record and the PD will no doubt release them in due time unless a Court grants someone an injunction prohibiting their release. What will you say if the recordings support the department's preliminary account of the icident? Will you accept and acknowledge this? Or will you remain silent and move on to other baseless accusations, other hateful aspersions, and other unfounded condemnations? John B. Greet LBPD-retired
Marco September 19, 2012 at 09:41 PM
Mike Ruehle September 19, 2012 at 10:35 PM
LBPD's press release: "The suspect lunged towards one of the officers with the knife, CAUSING THE OFFICER TO DISCHARGE HIS WEAPON (shot #1). At the same time, the suspect threw the knife at the officer. The suspect THEN armed himself with a second knife, again moved towards the officer in a threatening manner, CAUSING THE OFFICER TO DISCHARGE HIS WEAPON A SECOND TIME (shot #2). Officers IMMEDIATELY began performing CPR (shots #3, #4, #5, #6 not mentioned), and continued until paramedics arrived; however, the suspect was pronounced deceased at the scene." http://www.lbreport.com/news/sep12/oishard.htm Greet appears to have a problem with reading comprehension when he says the Long Beach police press release, "did not address the number of shots fired. Not in any sense or to any degree." Either that or Greet is using the training he received as a Long Beach police officer to stretch the truth to always protect the misconduct of his fellow officers. Obviously, the press release indicates two shots, and ONLY two shots were fired. So how do they account for the OTHER four shot we now know were also fired? Furthermore, if police "immediately began performing CPR" after the second shot, why did they then shoot Jordan a third time, and when did that occur?
John B. Greet September 19, 2012 at 10:58 PM
Once again, the press release did not address the number of shots fired. Not in any sense or to any degree. Ruehle is free to misinterpret what the press release *actually says* all he likes and to then use his misinterpretation to once again issue his knee-jerk condemnations of the police department, but the press release does *not* address the number of shots fired. Not in any sense or to any degree. Rather than simply *ask* what LBPD may have meant by saying what it did and then be better informed as a result of having received an accurate answer, Ruehle prefers to apply his own erroneous interpretation so as to imply that LBPD is issuing falsehoods through its press releases. "Either that or Greet is using the training he received as a Long Beach police officer to stretch the truth to always protect the misconduct of his fellow officers." Apparently Ruehle has gazed into the future again and seen that the officers involved in this tragic shooting had been found guilty of misconduct. He can't possibly know this will occur but he writes as if it already has, because, on Planet Ruehle, facts and proof have little significance. If Ruehle believes a thing is so, that's all the proof he needs. Still waiting for Ruehle to offer any proof that I have ever protected or justified police officer misconduct. Second attempt....still waiting.
Panglonymous September 20, 2012 at 12:08 AM
When an officer's weapon is "discharged," it may have been fired once - or several times in quick succession (a burst.) Is that correct?
John B. Greet September 20, 2012 at 12:17 AM
"When an officer's weapon is 'discharged,' it may have been fired once - or several times in quick succession (a burst.) Is that correct?" Yes, Pan, you are correct. To indicate that an officer has "discharged" his or her weapon is not to make any comment as to the number of rounds (or shots) that have been fired. Thank you for asking.
Nancy Wride (Editor) September 20, 2012 at 02:14 AM
To whom it may concern, fyi, I was dismayed the press release made no mention of David Jordan's autism, which was allegedly known that night, and clearly by the time the release had to be written, much less a day or two later. But I did not read the press release to suggest any number of shots fired. The family told me, and a neighbor close enough to the property to hear it clearly told them, that six shots were fired, and the family says three hit Jordan.
Marco September 20, 2012 at 05:12 AM
There were three bullet holes I had to cover with duck tape only because I didn't want my mother to walk in seeing that. One inside the top sink (viewable), and two on the bottom cabinets of the sink area. I am not sure if any bullets went through David because there were three more holes (more like dents). One on the wooden floor and two others on the wall (sink area). Tomorrow I'll be helping dressing him. Something that will not be easy for me. Please pray for us... <3
John B. Greet September 20, 2012 at 06:23 AM
Assuming the PD new about the autism at the time the press release was composed and approved for release, it does seem strange that such information was not included. It certainly would seem pertinent and I can't think of any potential harm that could have come from including it. About the only things I can come up with -again, assuming this was known at the time the release was composed and approved for distribution- are: A: David's autism had not yet been confirmed to the PD as a medical diagnosis (so it would be inappropriate to publish such uncomfirmed medical information) or B: It was confirmed to PD but they didn't have authorization from the family to release that information to the public (as a medical diagnosis, unauthorized disclosure may have violated HIIPA statutes?) In any case I think it is a valid avenue of inquiry.
Marco September 20, 2012 at 03:58 PM
John B. Greet I understand what you're saying. But to me.. if a police officer is on your tale and checks your plates.. why is it that all the information is there? Whether if this person that owns the vehicle has a DUI, warrant etc etc. I think it's ridiculous that since it's not the first time that they have been at the same house.. they don't have a record of David being autism.
Terri L. Brunette September 20, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Special needs people need special treatment by the police. It would be beneficial for the police dept. to be trained with new updates every year on these special conditions. The way autistic persons "understand" and are to be handled can be very different than a "normal" person. I understand a man brandishing a knife can be an aggressive move. I also understand that the police were no strangers to this young man & his grandmother. One of the comments above brought up a huge point...the police have all the info on DUI's etc. on people they pull over. Why do they not have the history on people like David & his autism at the tips of their fingers? It's criminal! It's feeling more & more like the police shoot first and ask questions later. Or, like in Fullerton,CA. and the death of Mr. Kelly...they feel obliged to beat the mentally ill to death and then back-pedal. So incredibly sad. Terri, RN, MSN
John B. Greet September 20, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Marco: Sorry for your loss. The information officers receive when they run a license plate is actually fairly limited and only provides information about the vehicle itself and whomever the regiestered and legal owners may be, neither of whom may actually be driving, or even in the vehicle at the time. As to whether or not the officers who responded to the Jordan home on 9/11 had any prior knowledge of David or his challenges, I really have no idea. Even if, as you say, other officers had handled a call or calls at the house in the past (and I *think* this is the first time I've heard that. I'd be interested to learn what those previous calls were and what actions, if any, the officers took at the time) that doesn't automatically mean the officers in the current case had any knowledge of it.
John B. Greet September 20, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Terri, I would encourage you (a well-educated medical professional) to avoid leaping to assumptions in this matter. I suspect you would not take whatever information one of your patients initially provided you at face value, leap to various conclusions about the person, and immediately begin a course of treatment. As I understand your discipline, there is a lot of information to gather, tests to administer and results to analyze long before you can settle on a likely diagnosis and treatment, yes? The same methodical approach to inquiry, diagnosis, and treatment should be followed here. As I mentioned to Marco, above, the information officers receive when they run a license plate is actually fairly limited and only provides information about the vehicle itself and whomever the regiestered and legal owners may be, neither of whom may actually be driving, or even in the vehicle at the time. The officers do not automatically receive, for example, a criminal history check on someone simply by running a license plate. The car has no idea who is occupying it. The only way to learn more about a specific person *in* the car is to contact that person, accurately identify them, and then query various databases. It is possible for officers to share pertinent information with one another about a given residence or business address. I have no idea whether this occurred, here, or not. The inquiries and investigations continue.
Nancy Wride (Editor) September 21, 2012 at 01:42 AM
The family maintains that they did not call for police and had not, previously, called for law enforcement, but for medical aid, which is what they say they received: http://patch.com/A-xPKp In pertinent part: "The grandmother of David Jordan, 20, whose autism she said resulted in an IQ of an 8-year-old, told Patch Monday she had called 9-1-1 in the past to have medics help get David to a hospital when depression left him wanting "to see God." Mrs. Jordan, who declined to give her first name, said the ambulance or medics "helped us get him help at the hospital when he resisted, because he was so depressed." That scenario is what Mrs. Jordan said she expected last week when she called 9-1-1...." http://patch.com/A-xPKp The investigation conclusion will, I hope, come sooner than months later, considering the 911 tape is the record of what was said to the dispatcher, and the witnesses have surely been interviewed given it was more than a week ago. The Coroner has released the body to the family for its memorial and so forth.
John B. Greet September 21, 2012 at 03:19 AM
During any of her past calls to 911, had Mrs. Jordan ever reported to the dispatcher who answered the phone that David had been "...armed with a knife, threatening her, and yelling that he wanted the police to kill him" as she is reported to have told them on *this* occasion? It's pure speculation on my part, Nancy, but as I mentioned before, police dispatchers initially answer those calls and if Mrs. Jordan told them what the press release claims, whether or not any mention was made of autism, they are most likely going to dispatch a police unit immediately and then route the call to the fire department dispatchers for paramedic response. What Mrs. Jordan described on the phone (if accurate) was a crime in progress. That may not have been her intent when she called, but that's how such a call is most likely going to be "triaged": Immediate police dispatch, followed by fire department dispatch. Based upon my experience, even had PD and fire arrived simultaneously, the fire personnel would not have gone in or near the house (given the information about knives and threats) until the PD assured them the scene was secure.
Marco September 21, 2012 at 03:42 AM
Exactly... thank you Nancy Wride. This is an FYI Funeral services are not at the cemetery. They're at the church at 10 am
Nancy Wride (Editor) September 21, 2012 at 03:52 AM
Mrs. Jordan's husband said 9 a.m. Is that the viewing and the funeral begins at 10 a.m.? The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints 3114 E. South Street Long Beach, CA 90805
Marco September 21, 2012 at 04:45 AM
Viewing is at 9am and funeral service is at 10am The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints 3114 E. South Street Long Beach, CA 90805
Mike Ruehle September 21, 2012 at 04:42 PM
Officer Friendly was introduced every year to my elementary school auditorium where I grew up in rural Minnesota. All of us kids would receive a badge and inspirational words of advice on safety. It took many years, but the Long Beach Police have destroyed my image of Officer Friendly and replaced him with a scary, untrustworthy, steroid injected killer. So long Officer Friendly. Hello to-be feared law enforcement.
John B. Greet September 21, 2012 at 09:38 PM
So, essentially, you grew up (chronologically at least) and found out that cops are just human beings not very unlike yourself...and that a percentage of them can sometimes make mistakes (just like you) and that a very small percentage of them can sometimes make a conscious choice to break the rules (just like you)? Boy, Ruehle, that must have been quite traumatic for you.
Marco September 21, 2012 at 10:45 PM
I believe everyone makes mistakes and sometimes we make the wrong choices but everyone must be forgiven. Yes, sometimes it's very hard to forgive... but we must because all we're doing is hurting ourselves. Sorry to get all religious but it is written John 15:12: This is my commandment, that ye love one another, even as I have loved you.
Nancy Wride (Editor) September 21, 2012 at 11:25 PM
Readers, this forgiveness is extended by David Jordan's family member, and I find that quite moving. Thank you for your voice on this story, Marco.
Marco September 23, 2012 at 07:07 PM
My pleasure. Thank you all for your support. May God bless you all <3


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