LAPD Panel Finds Officers’ Deadly Actions ‘Improper’

September 22, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles Police Commission decided Tuesday that three officers acted improperly last year in killing two people in separate shooting cases.

The commission decided that officers Zackary Goldstein and Andrew Hacoupian violated department policy on the use of deadly force when they fired shots at 46-year-old James Byrd in Van Nuys on Oct. 3, ultimately killing him.

Byrd had thrown a 40-ounce glass beer bottle through the rear window of a patrol car, leading the officers inside to believe they were being shot at, according to police accounts and a report by Chief Charlie Beck.

The officers had been stopped at a red light, about to turn onto Victory Boulevard from Sepulveda Boulevard, when the rear window of the vehicle was shattered.

The officers said that after they got out of the cruiser, they saw Byrd was pointing his hand at them while holding what appeared to be a handgun or dark object.

It was unclear what the man was holding, but an investigation failed to turn up any weapon other than the broken glass bottle found in the back seat of the patrol vehicle, according to Beck’s report.

Beck wrote that while he felt the initial round of shooting was warranted, a second volley by the officers was “out-of-policy” because it did not appear to him that the officers had enough reason to believe they faced “imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury.”

Before the initial shots, the officers described the damage done by the bottle as resembling that of gunshots.

Beck did not specify how the second use of lethal force fell short of policy, but the account given in his report says that just before they began shooting at Byrd again, one of the officers said Byrd appeared to be in the process of fleeing, while still facing them.

In one officer’s account, Byrd appeared to be turning towards him, so he began firing, while the other officer said Byrd seemed to be “attempting to point the gun at me and my partner again to shoot at us again.”

“At that time, I discharged my weapon again about six to eight rounds, at which point the suspect went down,” the officer said.

Police Commissioner Steve Soboroff cast the dissenting vote on the out-of-policy determination for one officer. The decision was unanimous for the other officer.

In a separate case, the police commission faulted the higher-ranked of the two officers who fatally shot 37-year-old Norma Angelica Guzman on Sept. 27, saying the officer acted out of department policy.

The determination diverges from Beck’s assessment that both officers, Samuel Briggs and Antonio McNeely, acted properly in using deadly force because they had enough reason to fear for their lives or that of a partner’s.

One officer had a rank of a “training officer,” while the other officer’s rank indicates he recently graduated from the academy.

It was unclear from the redacted version of Beck’s report if the more highly ranked officer was Briggs or McNeely, and LAPD media relations officials said they did not have permission to release information about the ranks of either of the officers.

Commissioners did not explain during Tuesday’s meeting how they reached their decisions, and why they disagreed with part of Beck’s determinations.

The shooting occurred near the barber shop at 2120 S. San Pedro St., just south of downtown Los Angeles, at about 9:30 a.m., according to Beck’s report.

Briggs and McNeely, who were from the Newton Division were responding to a report of a woman with a butcher knife standing in front of a barber shop, according to Beck’s report.

When the officers arrived on scene, they determined that Guzman fit the description. Guzman began advancing toward the officers, going from being 70 feet away from the officers to four feet away within 11 seconds, according to Beck’s report.

The report also said that body camera footage shows that despite repeated commands by one of the officers that Guzman drop the knife in her hand, she continued advancing towards the officers, getting as close as four feet away from one of them and yelling “shoot me!”

The officer closest to Guzman fired one round at her, while the second officer who was further away, seeing that Guzman had gotten close to his partner while holding a knife, fired two rounds at her “to stop the deadly threat,” according to Beck’s report.

The officers than called for an ambulance, but Guzman died later at the hospital.

An 8-inch serrated knife was recovered at the scene, according to police reports last year.

Details about recommendations by the Office of the Inspector General, which answers to the commission, were not immediately available Tuesday.

All four officers involved in the shooting cases are on full working duty, LAPD Officer Aareon Jefferson said.

It is up to Beck to take disciplinary steps, if any, against the officers who were determined as acting out of policy.

 

LAPD Commission Wants Closer Look at Handling of Racial Profiling Claims

September 15, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles Police Commission Tuesday requested a re-examination of the way the LAPD handles complaints of racial profiling by officers, with one member saying the existing efforts are inadequate.

“Community members aren’t convinced that we take bias seriously,” said Commissioner Cynthia McClain-Hill. “And I don’t really believe that anyone sitting in this room believes that our data captures the full extent of inappropriate or biased encounters.”

McClain-Hill called for a deeper look at the LAPD’s biased policing complaint procedures and the department’s efforts to train officers about bias, including the unconscious or “implicit” kind.

She noted that during the entire time the LAPD has been receiving and reviewing complaints of biased policing, “the number of sustained complaints, particularly with respect to racial bias, has been at or near zero.”

Critics of the police department have expressed incredulity that virtually every complaint made by the public about racial profiling by LAPD officers has been deemed unfounded, as has been indicated in the department’s periodic audits and reports on such complaints.

The commission adopted McClain-Hill’s motion, which calls for LAPD officials to report back on the issue on Nov. 1, at a meeting to be held in the community.

Her motion specifically requests that LAPD officials report on the biased policing complaint policies of other large cities, including Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, Dallas and Baltimore.

She asked that officials find out how those municipalities define biased
policing or racial profiling, as well as data on the number of complaints and
the demographics of the cities and their respective departments.

McClai-Hill also asked for more details on how the LAPD tries to “identify any bias that a candidate may have” during the recruitment process, and how anti-bias training is provided to officers and what supervisors are doing to ensure that officers are not engaging in biased actions.

She also requested an update on how and when the department will roll out its planned implicit bias training.“My goal here is to get us beyond the limitations, which seem obvious, of relying on a single metric — that is to say just the numbers captured” in biased policing complaint reports presented periodically to the commission, McClain-Hill said.

She added that she hopes the report will “promote a real and meaningful dialogue that can serve as the basis for real and meaningful policymaking,” and does not want her motion to be interpreted as suggesting that she believes “members of this department at large are inherently biased, or show up to work for any reason other than to do the very best job they can (in) protecting this city.”

Suspect Shot on 110 Freeway

September 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

A suspect was shot and wounded by at least one California Highway Patrol officer on the Harbor (110) Freeway in downtown Los Angeles, prompting a freeway closure of around nine hours that disrupted Tuesday morning’s commute, authorities said.

The shooting was reported shortly before midnight on the northbound Harbor Freeway around Olympic Boulevard, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Broadcast video showed what appeared to be a wounded suspect being loaded onto an ambulance.

All northbound lanes including transition roads were shut down and traffic was eventually diverted to the eastbound and westbound Santa Monica (10) Freeway. The roadways were reopened about 9 a.m., the CHP said.

According to the preliminary investigation, the man was in the traffic lanes when he armed himself with an unknown-type weapon and charged at the officers, resulting in the officer-involved shooting, according to the LAPD.

The man reportedly was hospitalized in critical condition. His name was not immediately released.

Local Groups Help Spread Energy, Money Saving Programs

September 1, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

With as many as 500,000 customers now eligible for free energy-efficient home upgrades, the Southern California Gas Co. is partnering with local organizations to get the word out to low-income families who may qualify under newly updated eligibility guidelines.

“Our goal is to help all homes become energy efficient by at least 10 percent,” explained Jacqueline Flores, communications advisor for SoCalGas. “Partnering with local groups will help us reach out to our target audience.”

SoCalGas’ Energy Savings Assistance Program provides no-cost energy saving improvements to both renters and homeowners. Improvements include weather-stripping, caulking, faucet aerators, low-flow showerheads, attic insulation, thermostatic shower valves, water heater blankets and other minor home repairs.

Whenever Maria Perez meets with a new client looking for subsidized childcare at the Mexican American Opportunity Foundations (MAOF) office in Commerce, she provides them with a package of information about programs such as the Energy Savings Assistance Program offered through SoCalGas.

“If they qualify for one service based on their income, we let them know about other programs they may also qualify for,” said Perez, who serves as a financial advisor at MAOF.

Representatives from SoCalGas inform customers about energy saving programs during a community event earlier this year. (Courtesy of SoCalGas)

Representatives from SoCalGas inform customers about energy saving programs during a community event earlier this year. (Courtesy of SoCalGas)

“Many times the [clients] don’t know about the programs or look for them on their own,” she explained during a meeting sponsored by SoCalGas Tuesday at a restaurant on Olvera Street.

The new income guidelines for the utility’s energy savings program have increased the amount a household can earn and still qualify for assistance. Under the new income chart released in June, a two-person household may now make up to $32,040 a year to qualify, higher than the $31,820 previously allowed.

Customers may also automatically be eligible for the program if someone in the household receives benefits from public assistance program such as Medi-Cal, CalWORKS, CalFresh, National School Lunch Program or WIC.

Los Angeles Police Department Lt. Al Labrada told EGP he often invites SoCalGas representatives to community events to share the services they offer.

“It helps us build trust in the community when we partner with groups like SoCalGas who provide services that benefit them,” he said.

Often those who could benefit the most from these types of programs, such as the immigrant, indigenous and low-income, are the ones who don’t know the benefits exists, he pointed out.

“We rely on community leaders to outreach and build trust ourselves,” Flores told EGP. “Often times people think ‘nothing is free,’” but they are more willing to believe they can save money when they hear it from trusted voices from the community.

The Energy Savings Assistance Program is just one of the many customer assistance programs SoCalGas offers. The company has enrolled 1.5 million customers in its California Alternate Rates for Energy Program (CARE), which gives qualified customers a 20 percent monthly rate discount. CARE enrollees make up approximately one third of all SoCalGas customers.

The energy saving home upgrades to showerheads, faucets and shower will also help customers save not just on their gas bill but on their water rates as well, points out Flores.

“We are here for the community and these energy saving improvements make a difference,” she said.

Bertha Monterrey, a parent coordinator at Fiesta Educativa in Lincoln Heights, told EGP she gladly provides her clients with information about energy saving programs. Fiesta Educativa provides services, training and advocacy services to people with disabilities and their families and Monterrey says SoCalGas has sponsored their events, adding they reach out to groups that are often ignored, like the disabled, those with language barriers and senior citizens.

“Many people think they don’t qualify but if they do, this can be a big help in bringing down their bills,” she said.

Update: Sept. 1  2:15pm A quote by a SoCalGas representative was changed to clarify that 10% was in reference to the energy efficiency of every home rather than their goal to only reach 10% of the all homes.

Breves de la Comunidad

September 1, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Bell Gardens

(CNS)- Un ciclista de 74 años de edad se hirió seriamente el viernes, 26 de agosto, en la parte sur de Pasadena cuando se pegó accidentalmente, con su cabeza, en contra de un camión estacionado.

El hombre, residente de Bell Gardens, fue trasladado al Hospital Huntington Memorial después del accidente que ocurrió a las 5:45 a.m. y se encuentra en condición critica, de acuerdo al Departamento de Policía del Sur de Pasadena. El accidente ocurrió en el bloque 400 de la Avenida Fair Oaks.

“El ciclista llevaba un casco protector, sin embargo, el impacto fue tan severo que perforó el casco y lo quebró,” según la declaración policial.

La cabeza del ciclista pegó una de las esquinas de atrás del camión comercial que estaba estacionado legalmente en la Avenida Fair Oaks. De acuerdo a los reportes policiales, el hombre, cuyo nombre no ha sido publicado, iba viendo hacia abajo con la cabeza agachada y no se dio cuenta.

Boyle Heights

(CNS)- Un hombre de 76 años de edad sufriendo de la enfermedad, Alzheimer’s desapareció por dos semanas de Boyle Heights, pero fue encontrado sano y salvo el jueves, 25 de agosto, de acuerdo al Departamento de Policía de Los Ángeles (LAPD).

Paul Anaya había sido visto por última vez el 13 de agosto en el bloque 600 de la Calle North Cummings, dijo el LAPD.

La policía no reveló en dónde exactamente encontraron a Anaya pero aseguraron de que está de vuelta con su familia.

Echo Park

(CNS) – Una mujer, residente de Echo Park, cuyo hijo adolescente de 11 años fue encontrado muerto en un closet de su casa, fue acusada de asesinato y de abuso infantil el jueves, 25 de agosto.

El juez de la Corte Superior de Los Ángeles, Sergio C. Tapia, el segundo, ordenó que Veronica Aguilar de 39 años se mantenga encarcelada bajo una fianza de $2 millones. Esto será mientras ella espera una cita programada para el 8 de septiembre en donde se discutirán los cargos.

Eagle Rock

(CNS)- La Policía arrestó a un sospechoso el jueves, 25 de agosto y continúan buscando a otro que se escapó a pie después de una persecución automovilística en Eagle Rock.

El carro, un Toyota Prius, fue perseguido por las autoridades en la mañana del jueves, y el vehículo se acabó estrellando cerca de Yosemite Drive y Ellenwood Drive, de acuerdo a los reportes oficiales de la policía.

Activistas Hispanos y Afroamericanos Se Unen en Contra de Brutalidad Policial

September 1, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Activistas hispanos y afroamericanos protestaron el miércoles, 24 de agosto pidiendo la destitución del jefe del Departamento de Policías de Los Ángeles (LAPD), a raíz de las muertes de civiles en encuentros con agentes del orden.

Una de las muertes siendo protestadas fue la del joven Jesse Romero, de 14 años, en Boyle Heights la cual causó indignación entre muchos como Carlos Montes, director del centro Comunidad Servicio y Organización (CSO), según declaró a EFE.

Romero murió el 9 de agosto, después de presuntamente disparar en la dirección de los agentes que lo iban persiguiendo a pie, según declaraciones del LAPD.

El incidente ha impulsado la demanda de mayor inversión en programas para beneficios de la juventud al igual que justicia por la comunidad de Boyle Heights y Los Ángeles.

Montes explicó que recientemente la entidad CSO se reunió con el movimiento de Black Lives Matter buscando un acercamiento para “trabajar conjuntamente en contra de la violencia policial”.

La alianza #BlackBrownShutItDown realizó la protesta el pasado miércoles con una concentración frente a la Alcaldía de la ciudad en la que leyeron un manifiesto que criticaba que “la violencia salvaje de la Policía contra los negros y los morenos ocurre a través de todos Estados Unidos”.

La Red Nacional de Jornaleros (NDLON, en inglés) reclamó que en los últimos tres años, el LAPD, al mando de Charlie Beck, “ha matado a más de sus residentes que ninguno otro cuerpo policial en el país”.

Los activistas destacaron que en lo que va del año, esta dependencia policial ha dado muerte a 15 personas, entre ellos 10 hispanos.

En medio de la protesta, unas 50 personas interrumpieron con gritos y consignas la reunión que sostenía la Comisión de la Policía de Los Ángeles, un grupo de civiles que supervisa a la Policía local.

El grupo fue desalojado sin incidentes del edificio, entre gritos que pedían la destitución del jefe de la Policía local y consignas en español que pedían justicia.

La manifestación marcó un nuevo episodio del trabajo conjunto que llevan organizaciones latinas y afroamericanas para denunciar casos de abuso policial.

Tear Gas Used to End Standoff In Highland Park

August 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

A man who allegedly threatened to kill his father was arrested Tuesday following a five-hour standoff in the Highland Park area, authorities said.

The 33-year-old man, whose name was not immediately released, was transported to a hospital after police used a stun gun to subdue him, said Officer Liliana Preciado, a Los Angeles Police Department spokeswoman.

No one else was injured during the standoff.

Officers were dispatched around 10:15 p.m. Monday to a report of a man with a knife threatening to kill a relative at a residence on Meridian Street near North Avenue 52, according to the LAPD.

Responding officers demanded the suspect exit the residence, but he refused and barricaded himself inside of the home, at which time a SWAT team was called, Preciado said.

An officer at the scene told KNX Newsradio that five rounds of tear gas were used to try to flush the man out of the residence before he finally emerged, still combative, forcing police to use a stun gun to get him into custody.

 

Man Killed in Alleged Gang Shooting

August 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

A 26-year-old man was killed in an apparent gang-related shooting in Boyle Heights, police said Monday.

Officers were dispatched about 8:30 p.m. Sunday to investigate a report of a shooting at the intersection of First and Gless streets, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

They found the wounded victim lying on the street between two parked vehicles, police said. Paramedics took him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to the LAPD.

The victim’s name has not been released.

“The motive appears to be gang related,” police said.

Anyone with information about the killing was urged to call detectives at the LAPD’s Hollenbeck Station at (323) 342-8960 or the station watch commander at (323) 343-4100. After-hours and weekend calls should be directed to (877) LAPD-24-7.

Anonymous tips can be submitted through Crime Stoppers by calling (800) 222-TIPS or at the website lacrimestoppers.org.

Police Videos Should Be Routinely Released to the Public

August 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The latest demonstration of police misconduct and abuse under the color of authority is clearly seen on a video recently obtained by the Los Angeles Times by order of a Los Angeles Superior Court judge.

Had the Times not made the video public, the actions of Los Angeles Police Department Officer Richard Garcia may have escaped public scrutiny, to the detriment of Los Angeles residents and police officers who perform their duties with honor.

In the video, Garcia is seen kicking a man being held down by two other officers. Over the next 10 seconds, Garcia punches and elbows the man in the head and knees him in the back.

The other two officers move away, while Garcia continues to press his knee into the man’s back for two minutes, only stopping when other officers pick up and drag the handcuffed man to a patrol car.

It’s important to note that the man in the video, identified as Clifford Alford, Jr., was handcuffed as the abuse was administered.

The video was taken in 2014 but only just released because the court ordered the LAPD to make the video available to the media outlet.

The LAPD continues to fight efforts to require that videos involving arrests and alleged incidents of abuse by police be released to the public.

As the LAPD continues to step up its use of officers wearing cameras, we believe it’s time for the department to change its stance and make the video recordings available to the public. Doing so will promote greater transparency in the department’s dealings with the public, and help restore the public’s trust of officers who are supposed to protect them.

The amount of time the LAPD gets to review the videos before their release to the public should be kept to a minimum.

EGP believes that the charged atmosphere surrounding police arrests and officer-involved-shootings would likely not become so volatile and in some cases be de-escalated with greater transparency from the department, especially when there is a video available.

Giving Angelenos the opportunity to view actual video, rather than speculate what went down, will allow them to determine for themselves if a police officer’s actions were justified.

In our view, the majority of cops are upstanding and should not be thrown into the same barrel with the bad apples. However, in cases like that involving Officer Garcia, good cops must be more aggressive in stopping the types of abuses seen on the video, and those that occur out of sight of the camera lens, both for their own good and the good of the department.

The public needs to be assured that its police officers, and the LAPD hierarchy, especially Chief Beck, will not just turn a blind eye on the abusive actions of their fellow officers.

Breves de La Comunidad

August 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Boyle Heights

(CNS) – Un hombre de 26 años murió en un tiroteo, supuestamente vinculado con actividad pandillera en Boyle Heights, de acuerdo a un reporte de la policía el lunes 22 de agosto.

El incidente ocurrió a las 8:30 p.m. el domingo, 21 de agosto, en la intersección de las Calles First y Gless. De acuerdo a la policía, cuando los oficiales llegaron al lugar del tiroteo, ellos encontraron al hombre herido, tirado en el suelo en medio de dos vehículos estacionados.

Fue entonces cuando los paramédicos lo trasladaron a un hospital en donde murió, según el Departamento de Policías de Los Ángeles (LAPD).

Aun no se ha publicado el nombre de la victima, y no lo será hasta que sus familiares sean contactados.

Cualquier persona con información relacionada es urgida, por las autoridades, a contactar a los detectives a cargo en la Estación del LAPD en Hollenbeck al (323) 342-8960.

Pistas anónimas también pueden ser reportadas por medio de la línea de asistencia “Crime Stoppers” al (800) 222-TIPS o visitando la página web lacrimestoppers.org

Highland Park

(CNS) -Oficiales del SWAT de Los Ángeles arrestaron a un hombre la mañana del martes, 23 de agosto, después de un enfrentamiento en el área de Highland Park, de acuerdo a las autoridades.

El hombre, de 33 años de edad, fue trasladado a un hospital luego que un policía usó una pistola paralizante para contenerlo, de acuerdo a Liliana Preciado, oficial de la sección de relaciones públicas del Departamento de Policía de Los Ángeles.

Alrededor de las 10:15 a.m. se reportó que el hombre estaba amenazando de matar a un familiar con un cuchillo en una residencia ubicada en la Calle Meridian y la Avenida Norte 52, según la policía.

Cuando los oficiales llegaron, el hombre se atrincheró en la residencia y no quiso cooperar con la policía. Fue entonces cuando el equipo del SWAT fue llamado resultando en el arresto.

Ninguna otra persona, aparte del hombre, fue lesionada.

Highland Park

(CNS) – Un bombero se lesionó mientras combatía las llamas de un incendio en el área de Highland Park el sábado, 20 de agosto.

El incendio sucedió un poco después del medio día en un hogar desocupado en el 419 N. Avenue 54. Las llamas fueron contenidas a 18 minutos después de la llegada de los bomberos, de acuerdo a Margaret Stewart parte del Departamento de Bomberos de Los Ángeles.

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