Police might have fatally shot a car-chase suspect over the weekend after at least one cop mistook a fellow officer's actions for unfriendly gunfire.
That, at least, appears to be what Fox 11 News was reporting last night.
Citing an unnamed police official, the station offered one possible explanation for why 51-year-old Brian Beaird of Oceanside was hit with gunfire on live television (video on the next page), even though it was clear he wasn't armed or charging at authorities at the end of a wild chase. In fact …
… live video shot by KTLA News' helicopter shows the suspect exiting his car and briefly raising his hands before grabbing his gut and falling down, his back to the cops who had pursued him.
Why? That was the question for many folks watching. Yes, the suspect had acted recklessly, but how did he end up dead?
Fox 11 News says an officer who opened fire did so because a less-than-lethal beanbag round shot by a fellow cop might have been mistaken for gunfire from the suspect.
Beaird, described in reports as a disabled veteran who served in the National Guard for eight years, died at a nearby hospital about 43 minutes after the chase ended, according to City News Service.
News footage shows a “DP” plate, for disabled person, on the Corvette he was driving.
The incident started as a pursuit of a suspected drunk and reckless driver in Cudahy about 9:30 p.m. Saturday, L.A. County Sheriff's Department officials said. At times the CHP and the LAPD got involved.
The pursuit worked its way through South L.A. and eventually into Downtown as news choppers followed the silver 2013 Corvette, which appeared to fishtail around corners and rip through red lights.
About 10:30 p.m. at Los Angeles Street and Olympic Boulevard the 'Vette went through the intersection and tagged the back of a Nissan, sending that car spinning into a fire hydrant and putting the Chevy into a 360 degree spin until it rested on a nearby corner.
Even with the sports car's front clip mangled and smoke coming from its engine bay, the driver appeared to try to move forward, and then back up, with little hope of carrying on.
The lanky suspect in jeans exited and appeared to briefly throw his hands up as he went around the back of the car, his back to cops much of that time.
But soon he was grabbing for his gut and going down, with at least one Twitter account monitoring LAPD traffic saying that officers had called out “shots fired” and requested an ambulance.
The patrol cars immediately behind the Corvette had the “13” trunk numbers of the LAPD's local Newton Division.
Beaird was taken to nearby California Hospital Medical Center, where he was declared dead at 11:13 p.m., according to CNS.
On Sunday, CBS Los Angeles talked to the man's brother, John Beaird, who said he had just purchased the Corvette.
He said his brother had called family members during the pursuit to ask “why are they after me — I didn't do anything.”
The brother said:
We're pretty angry. I mean there didn't seem to be … justification for what had happened. This could have been handled differently. He was scared. … I hope that if these people did act inappropriately there will be justice down the line.
CBS Los Angeles said the family was already speaking to an attorney about the matter.
Police Chase Reckless Driving Suspect In Corvette Around South Gate https://t.co/lYYkp6SeTX
— CBS Los Angeles (@CBSLA) December 14, 2013
A couple hours later Sheriff's deputies responding to a shooting in Compton pursued a possible suspect's car to Greenleaf Boulevard and Wilmington Avenue, where the vehicle, according to a Sheriff's statement …
… crashed into a brick wall and a pole. The suspect vehicle rolled over, collided into an iron gate and caught fire.
The four people inside, including a female driver, were dead at the scene, deputies said.