The official account of a deputy involved shooting that took the life of 18-year-old Zachary Champommier was questioned this week by a witness, Douglas Oeters, who says he saw the incident because he was meeting up with the teen that night, according to the crime-and-justice blog WitnessLA.
Champommier was fatally shot by law enforcement in a Studio City parking lot behind a Chipotle restaurant on June 24.
Oeters told WitnessLA's Celeste Fremon that he was at the lot to meet Champommier at the same time a task force that included Los Angeles police, sherriff's deputies and federal DEA agents had assembled there for an unrelated search-warrant debriefing.
According to a Sheriff's Department press release, the officers believed Oeters was casing cars in the area and attempted to arrest him. During the arrest, Champommier attempted to drive out of the parking lot and struck a deputy. A DEA agent and the deputy then opened fire, killing the young man.
Oeters, 29, claimed that he was only looking for Champommier when the plain clothes officers attempted to arrest him.
“I was scared and tried to avoid this very large man in plain clothes with no badge,” Oeters told WitnessLA in an email. “They rushed towards me as I was walking in the parking lot looking for Zac waiting in his car. …I was looking for Zac and nothing else.”
Oeters said that he never physically resisted authorities, a claim contradicting the Sheriff Department's account, which claims that the 29-year-old “became uncooperative” and struggled with authorities.
Oeters surmised that Champommier was probably frightened by the situation and attempted to flee.