Los Angeles police watchdog finds three officers improperly killed suspects

Los Angeles police watchdog finds three officers improperly killed suspects
Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

The Los Angeles Police Commission decided that an LAPD officer involved in the 2015 killing of a woman armed with a knife and, in a separate incident, two officers who shot and killed a man who had allegedly thrown a beer bottle at a police vehicle, violated department rules on the use of deadly force, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

According to KPCC, the commission decided one of two officers involved in the shooting of 37-year-old Norma Guzman, should have withheld fire, though it is "unclear" which of the officers — Samuel Briggs or Antonio McNeely — was found to be at fault. Video of that incident has not been made available to the public.

In the case of the 45-year-old James Byrd, who allegedly threw a beer bottle at a police cruiser's window, the commission found Officers Zachary Goldstein and Andrew Hacoupian were unjustified in jumping out of the car and shooting him to death, KPCC reported.

Any punishment for the officers falls to LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, who has the power to decide what if any disciplinary measures will be handed down.

The LAPD shot 36 people in 2015, killing 21 of them, according to the Times, and this year have shot 17, killing 14.

The department only rarely decides that officers involved in lethal use of force incidents are guilty of misconduct, since 2011 ruling 322 out of 340 police (95%) involved in such incidents acted properly, reported KPCC. From 2012 to 2014, the Police Commission did not uphold any of 1,356 complaints filed against officers.

In 2013, U.S. District Judge Gary Feess lifted a binding agreement between the LAPD and the federal Department of Justice originally imposed in 2011 requiring "dozens of major reforms the police agency had to implement and frequent audits it was required to undergo by a monitor who reported to Feess," according to the Times.

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Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

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