Los Angeles Police Department officers were caught on body camera shooting at an unarmed suspect wanted for arrest from a moving patrol vehicle. It was the second such shooting by LAPD members in a particularly violent week over the summer.
Officers shot at three people, one a suspected gang member, as they were exiting a truck at Radford Avenue and Stagg Street in the LA neighborhood of Sun Valley on the evening of July 21, 2022, according to the Los Angeles Times. Video of the incident was posted two weeks ago on the YouTube account PoliceActivity:
The Times reported that the only shots fired at the scene came from LAPD. After the gunfire, a man came out of the house, telling police his family was inside and begging them to stop shooting. Another voice cried out that he was holding a lighter, not a weapon.
The LAPD’s official statement claims that officers mistook the lighter for a gun. Never mind the fact that officers gave no instruction and no chance for the suspect to drop the item in his hands, nor did the officers apparently consider that it is legal to openly carry a gun on your own private property in Los Angeles.
In July, the Times reported that the suspect “...barred himself in a nearby house,” which sounds a little bit like taking cover from some shoot-first-ask-questions-eventually cops. The family inside the house was thankfully unscathed, as was the suspect. But by the time police set up a perimeter, brought out crisis negotiators and finally sent in SWAT officers, the person facing arrest was gone.
Rolling up on unsuspecting people and catching them by surprise by firing on them is conduct normally associated with gang members, not police officers. But this isn’t even the only such LAPD-involved shooting to happen that week.
Footage of a similar police shooting was captured on July 18 in the Leimert Park neighborhood. Police in a moving vehicle shot at an allegedly mentally ill man, Jermaine Petit, despite officers on the scene saying out loud that Petit was not holding a firearm. From the Times:
“It’s not a gun, bro,” the officer told his partner about the metallic object in Petit’s hand, according to video of the incident from officers’ body-worn cameras that the Los Angeles Police Department made public Thursday.
But that realization wouldn’t matter. Less than half a minute later, Petit would be shot multiple times by an LAPD sergeant firing from inside his vehicle and the officer’s partner, who failed to hear the warning that Petit was unarmed, according to the videos and information released by the department.
Police shot Petit multiple times, and at least one shot came from inside a moving patrol vehicle. It turned out Petit was holding a black metal lock actuator from a car door.
Petit was initially charged with resisting arrest and assaulting police with a deadly weapon, but since the cops were never in any danger, the LAPD eventually petitioned the court to drop the charge down to misdemeanor possession of an imitation weapon. The city has not yet filed any charges against Petit.
A study from the Times found that around one third of the 30 people shot by LAPD officers in 2021 were likely suffering from mental illness at the time they were shot. Neither Petit nor the suspect in the Sun Valley shooting were injured, which makes them lucky: in July, there were four fatal and one non-fatal police shootings involving the LAPD.