A year-long investigation into the January 14 shooting of young Hollywood model and former college football star Reginald Doucet, Jr. was officially closed today.
The Los Angeles Police Commission, who conducts all internal investigations of officer-involved shootings, has ruled that the LAPD officer who killed Doucet in front of his Playa Vista apartment in the wee hours was “justified” in resorting to deadly force, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Doucet's family currently has a “wrongful death” lawsuit pending…
… in U.S. District Court. It will get underway within a month or so, despite the commission's findings.
The family lawyer, Jamon Hicks of the Cochran Firm, tells the Times today that the decision to side with LAPD Officer Aaron Goff — the rookie cop who killed Doucet — “does not address serious inconsistencies in how the officer and his partner said the shooting occurred.”
We've contacted Hicks for more on how this will affect the civil suit. But when the Weekly spoke with the attorney back in April, these were his key concerns with the LAPD's actions that night:
“The officers that responded to the scene were told that [Doucet] was either on drugs or mentally ill,” says Hicks. “I handle a lot of cases dealing with the mentally ill. You just do not rush on someone… when something could happen to the subject, but also yourself.”
… One thing he says he does know for sure: At least one of the officers had a taser.
“They considered other options, but for some reason, abandoned their training and went from lower levels of force to the highest level of force,” he says.
And the taser element was apparently of some concern to commissioners, too. From the Times:
Before reaching its decision, the Police Commission took the unusual step of requesting a more thorough explanation from Beck of several aspects of the shooting, including why the officers did not attempt to use their Tasers.
Beck told the board that using a Taser would have been excessive early in the incident since Doucet had not become violent. Once the fighting began, Doucet's attempts to grab Goff's weapon and the strength of his punches meant deadly force was needed, Beck said.
Hicks isn't convinced. He likewise can't see how Officer Goff's account of shooting the naked, weaponless 25-year-old — while kneeling on the ground, after he claims he was knocked nearly unconscious by Doucet — matches up with the L.A. County Coroner's report. An autopsy of Doucet's bullet wounds showed they had entered in “a downward trajectory,” says the Times.
For that, Doucet's family will be suing for violations of the victim's “Fourth Amendment civil rights … because it was an unreasonable seizure of his person,” and of his young daughter's 14th Amendment rights, which have in turn been violated in the absence of her father.
But with today's decision, the LAPD, for its part, has washed its hands of the Doucet investigation for good.
We're not ones to conspiracy theorize, but the case tends to be that any news arriving this quietly — late on a Friday afternoon, before Christmas weekend no less — is kinda sorta supposed to get lost in the fray.