Following two fatal police shootings of armed men last month, the Los Angeles Police Department has released video footage of the incidents.
A compilation of videos from several officers’ body-worn cameras shows the violent culmination of a surreal, slow-motion pursuit of 30-year-old Rudolfo Torres on July 2 through the streets of Historic South-Central. After following Torres on foot for several blocks, officers tried to apprehend him and opened fired when he brandished a handgun, the videos show.
Gang officers assigned to the LAPD’s Newton Division were patrolling at 9:40 p.m. around 37th Place and Maple Avenue when they came upon Torres, who appeared to be under the influence of narcotics, said department spokeswoman Capt. Kelly Muniz. While speaking to Torres, officers became convinced that he was armed and ordered him to get his hands out of his pockets, Muniz said. She did not elaborate on why officers believed Torres was armed.
Torres ignored the command and started walking away, accusing the officers who were following several feet behind him of harassment.
“I’m not doing nothing, man. I was just walking, I was trying to go home,” he can be heard saying on the video. One of the officers is heard addressing Torres by an apparent nickname.
Moments later, a dispatcher is heard on officers’ radios saying the unfolding situation involved a man with a gun.
The video footage picks up several minutes later, as Torres continued to walk. By then, several more officers had responded to the scene, and a police helicopter was flying overhead. One of the officers is heard yelling at Torres: “Get your hands out of your pocket, dude. Get your hands out of your pocket; just listen to me, OK?”
In the video, more officers joined the slow procession behind Torres. They walked with their guns drawn while using the open doors of a police car as cover.
After they had been following Torres for about nine minutes, the decision was made to apprehend him. An officer shot Torres with a hard-foam projectile, sending him tumbling to the ground, the video shows.
While on the ground, Torres pulled out a handgun, and several officers fired a barrage of bullets, according to the video. A police news release said 10 officers were involved in the shooting.
No officers or bystanders were injured. Torres died later at a hospital.
Two “ghost guns,” which typically are assembled from parts and are not traceable in government databases, were recovered at the scene, police said: one near Torres’ body; the other, in a backpack he was carrying. Both weapons had extended ammunition magazines, police said.
Police later obtained a search warrant to search Torres’ apartment, where they found another ghost handgun, ammunition and “components consistent with the assembly of ghost guns,” according to a spokeswoman.
In interviews Wednesday, relatives of Torres and an attorney hired by the family questioned whether officers unnecessarily forced the deadly confrontation when he didn’t appear to present an immediate threat.
With the department having released scant information about why officers confronted Torres in the first place, the family also questioned the motive for stopping him.
“Police profiled him and they targeted him, being a brown man in South-Central L.A., specifically that neighborhood, and from the get-go, police had their guns drawn on Rudolfo, my brother,” said Javier Torres, who works as a high school teacher in Oakland.
Javier Torres argued that his brother’s death was part of a larger pattern of police violence and harassment in the neighborhood, where young Latino men complain of being frequently stopped and harassed by officers, he said.
“And it’s clear to me that this happens all the time,” he said.
The Los Angeles Police Protective League, which represents the LAPD’s rank-and-file officers, said in a statement that officers tried to de-escalate the encounter.
“Our officers worked diligently to avoid any use of force, they slowly and methodically attempted to get the suspect to stop and show his hands,” said the union’s statement, which pointed out that Torres was armed. “This loss of life could have been avoided if the suspect simply followed the lawful and reasonable commands of our officers.”
The other LAPD killing occurred three days later, July 5, when police shot Reginald Humphrey in Wilmington.
Along with video footage of that incident, the department included a recording of a 911 caller, who described two armed men running around the 600 block of Anaheim Street and “shooting … each other.” Surveillance video from a nearby recycling facility that was part of the LAPD’s video compilation showed a man with a backpack darting through a parking lot, apparently holding a gun.
A second surveillance video showed the same man about a minute later, pointing the apparent handgun at something or someone off-screen.
As responding officers circled the area looking for the gunmen, an observer directed them toward a man, later identified as Humphrey, who matched the suspect’s description and was walking down Ronan Avenue.
The officers pulled up, and one of them yelled at Humphrey to “put your hands up!” according to video from the officer’s body-worn camera.
Instead, Humphrey continued walking away as the officers got back into their car.
After circling the block and entering an alley, one of the officers spotted Humphrey and asked his partner whether he thought Humphrey was holding a gun. “Check his right hand, check his right hand,” the officer is heard saying.
“He’s got a gun, he’s got a gun,” the same officer yelled, as he and his partner jumped out and ordered Humphrey to drop the weapon.
Video from the officer’s body-worn camera shows him raising his gun at Humphrey while ordering him to “put your hands up” and “drop the gun,” before opening fire. About six seconds elapsed between the officers’ arrival in the alley and the shooting.
As Humphrey was on the ground, the officers continued to yell at him to drop the gun. Police later shot him with a 40-millimeter foam-tip projectile, and he dropped the gun.
Humphrey died at an area hospital.
Both shootings remain under investigation by the LAPD’s Force Investigation Division. The department’s civilian oversight panel, the Police Commission, will decide whether the officers acted in line with policies on deadly force. Such probes typically take several months and can last up to a year.
The incidents came amid a spate of LAPD shootings last month, in which officers shot and killed three people in six days.
So far this year, LAPD officers have opened fire 24 times, killing 11 people. That is roughly equal to the number of shootings during the same period in 2021 but marks a substantial increase from 2020, when there were 27 shootings all year, seven of them fatal.
In his weekly briefing to the Police Commission on Tuesday, LAPD Chief Michel Moore mentioned Charlie Jarr, a 79-year-old man who died a day after he was involved in an altercation with officers in the San Fernando Valley. Officers were in the process of arresting Jarr’s elderly wife during an apparent domestic disturbance when he tried to intervene. Officers used force on him, the chief said.
After the encounter, Jarr complained of chest pains and was taken to a hospital but declined treatment, Moore said. He was found dead the following day.
Because he was the subject of police force, an internal investigation was launched, Moore said. The medical examiner’s office has yet to release the cause and manner of death.
Soruce : https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-08-20/lapd-releases-body-cam-video-from-shootings-of-two-armed-men