Updated with photo of Torres and correct spelling of sheriff trainee's name. Originally posted at 9:15 a.m.
A high-intensity struggle between a Los Angeles sheriff's deputy in training and a reputed gang member last night in unincorporated City Terrace ended in both life and death.
Gang member and parolee Nestor Torres, 37, who fired the first round of shots, has been pronounced dead, while deputy trainee Mohammed Ahmed may have to undergo eye surgery.
Twenty-seven-year-old Ahmed was on his very first assignment in the field — think “Training Day,” after dark, around 7:15 p.m., as a light rain begins to fall — when he and his training officer noticed a vehicle parked along a strip of red sidewalk near Floral Drive and North Brannick Avenue.
But the situation soon became much more than a fire hazard.
According to the Sheriffs Department, Ahmed actually recognized the driver of the vehicle — it was Nestor Torres, a reputed gang member on parole. Update: Past convictions included being a felon in possession of a firearm and shooting at an inhabited dwelling. There was also an unidentified woman sitting beside Torres in the car.
After the deputies parked, opened their doors and began to emerge from the sheriff's cruiser, Torres jumped from his own vehicle and opened fire. During what officials report as a “struggle” with Ahmed, one of the gang member's bullets hit the trainee in the face.
The Los Angeles Times reports:
The training officer tried to wrestle the gun away from the suspect, deflecting the weapon as it was pointed at his chest, police said. The officer fired at least two shots, fatally wounding the suspect.
The training officer might have been shot, as well, if he hadn't slapped the gun away from Torres and delivered him a fatal round of return fire. The deputy ended up suffering only surface wounds — cuts and bruises.
Two guns belonging to Torres were later recovered from the scene.
This morning, Ahmed's Los Angeles County USC Medical Center doctors reported that the younger deputy isn't showing signs of brain damage, but remains in critical condition from the gunfire that seared through his right cheek and into his head last night.
At worst, Lieutenant Don Slawson of the homicide bureau told the Times that “doctors have said losing an eye is a distinct possibility.”
In response to the officer-involved shooting, the Los Angeles Police Protective League sent an e-mail to officers last night called “Law enforcement fatalities: a cause for concern and a call to action.” It is now posted to the LAPPL blog. It reads:
“LAPD Officers face enormous risks every day. While the City is safer than it has been in nearly four decades, in today's urban environment, policing has become more complex and dangerous, and yet these exceptional men and women continue to take on the responsibility of policing above and beyond the call of duty.”