Local civil rights activists are calling for a federal investigation into "the pattern and practices of the Los Angeles Police Department" following a string of shootings of unarmed minorities.
"In recent weeks we’ve seen a surge of Los Angeles police officers killing unarmed civilians and suspects in custody," said Najee Ali, political director of the National Action Network's Los Angeles chapter. "Ezell Ford and Omar Alberto [were] killed by LAPD officers last year [and] have investigations into their deaths that are still not completed. We need a justice department investigation to help reform our shoot-and kill-unarmed-civilians-first, we’ll-ask-questions-later police department."
The latest shooting happened Tuesday night in Venice when police responding to a 11:20 p.m. call about a homeless man harassing customers outside a restaurant at 80 Windward Avenue ultimately opened fire, the LAPD stated.
The victim of the fatal shooting was ID'd by friends as New York transplant Brendon Glenn, 29.
Cops initially had a word with the man and he walked away, but they returned when he was allegedly seen "physically struggling" with someone outside the nearby Townhouse bar, police said in a statement:
The officers returned to their car and shortly thereafter observed the suspect physically struggling with an individual on the sidewalk west of their initial location. The officers attempted to detain the suspect and an altercation occurred between the two officers and the suspect. During that physical altercation an Officer Involved Shooting (OIS) occurred.
Officers performed CPR before Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics transported the man to a hospital, but it wasn't enough to save him, police said.
Yesterday LAPD Chief Charlie Beck questioned the use of force. He told reporters:
Any time an unarmed person is shot by a Los Angeles police officer, it takes extraordinary circumstances to justify that. I have not seen those extraordinary circumstances.
The chief said security video of at least some of the events of that night had been obtained by investigators, who were reviewing the footage.
"I am concerned about this particular shooting," he told reporters. " ... We are looking for more video that may explain the circumstances."
Beck's quick expression of doubt prompted Los Angeles Police Protective League president Craig Lally to argue that the chief's comments, made "without having all of the facts," have tainted investigations into the shooting.
"The premature decision by the chief essentially renders the investigation process void," Lally said.
After the shooting local city Councilman Mike Bonin said, "I am urging people not rush to judgement or make conclusions until we know more."
Bonin, Police Commission president Steve Soboroff, and the captains of the LAPD's Pacific Division were expected to attend a 6 p.m. community meeting about the shooting at Westminster Elementary School in Venice.
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Such shootings automatically trigger investigations by the LAPD's Force Investigation Division and by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Justice System Integrity Division. The city's Office of the Inspector General also generally reviews major officer-involved shooting cases as well.
Beck acknowledged the "national discussion" on police shootings of unarmed black men and noted that, in this case, one of the officers who opened fire is also African American.
Anyone with information on the shooting was asked to call investigators at 213-486-5230.