In the last several weeks local law enforcement officials have been involved in altercations with three African American males that have resulted in two fatalities and another young man clinging to life in a local hospital.
The first incident, involved 43-year-old Inglewood resident, Reginald Andre Linthicum, who according to his family had just been paroled from state prison in June after more than 11 years.
He is suspected of going on an armed robbery spree Oct. 4 that started with the hold-up of a florist on Manchester Avenue just west of Crenshaw Boulevard. He then allegedly subsequently robbed a Radio Shack and 7-11 store further down Manchester. Linthicum then led Inglewood Police, and other law enforcement agencies on a surface streets high-speed chase that ended up at San Pedro’s Little Company of Mary Hospital.
According to Inglewood Police, Linthicum attempted to highjack a car in the hospital parking lot and was shot and killed by officers.
Investigations are ongoing by Inglewood police and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office.
A third incident involved a 21-year-old male who was shot eight times in the upper body by the LAPD near 84th Street and Wadsworth on Oct. 9. At press time, he was in a coma on life support.
The second and perhaps most controversial officer-involved-shooting occurred Oct. 7 about 5 p.m. in the Imperial Courts housing project in Watts.
According to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers were patrolling Imperial Courts and encountered what they said were “known” gang members.
An 18-year-old young man, James Davis allegedly changed directions upon seeing the officers, and a foot chase took place. LAPD reports that Davis took a semi-automatic hand-gun from his waistband and turned and pointed the weapon at officers. Five-year veteran Manuel Castenada fired his weapon and struck Davis.
But eye witnesses said that Davis was not running but had turned to surrender and had his hands behind his head.
The Los Angeles Coroner’s office reported that Davis had been shot in the back, corroborating witness claims. People who watched the incident also denied Davis ever showed a gun, however officers did recover a weapon at the scene.
According to South Bureau Deputy Chief Patrick Gannon, who overseas the Southeast Division station, which is assigned to patrol Imperial Courts, officers were out in the housing complex to prevent retaliatory actions because of an earlier shooting.
“About 10 days to two weeks earlier, a male was shot and killed at 114th Street and Croesus in the Imperial Courts . . . and the repass for that young man killed was occurring that day Oct. 7,” explained Deputy Chief Gannon. “To deter retaliatory shootings . . . we put additional people and extra resources in the housing development and other neighborhoods, where we thought retaliation might occur.”
Gannon said they also used gang intervention personnel to help quell tension.
“Burying a friend is very emotional; we didn’t want people to do things and take out their frustrations,” Gannon added.
Acknowledging that it is not illegal for people to congregate, the Deputy Chief noted that because of the situation, the police presence was heightened and officers were being especially vigilant.
The grassroots organization The Coalition for Community Control Over the Police (CCCOP) is working with the Davis family to help them raise money for the burial and obtain legal representation.
“The young man was shot in the back by police. That speaks for itself . . . anytime you shoot someone in the back, it’s hard to say they were pointing a gun at you,” CCCOP member Jubliee Shine contends.
The activist also noted that during resident interviews in the Imperial Courts, people said police were acting very aggressive and confrontational.
Additionally, a licensed nurse was on the scene and tried to provide medical assistance to Davis but was prevented by some of the officers.
Deputy Chief Gannon, said he heard similar reports, and noted that officers perhaps took that action with the nurse, because of the level of chaos that was happening around them at the time. He acknowledged that may not have been the right approach.
In the wake of the shooting, Gannon said a number of actions will be taken: An internal investigation will be conducted by the LAPD and a review of the facts will be sent throughout the department (including to Gannon and Chief Charlie Beck, a police inspector general and ultimately to the police commission) to determine whether or nor the shooting was appropriate.
Additionally the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office will conduct an separate investigation to determine whether or not charges should be filed against the officer.
In addition to the investigations, Gannon said LAPD called an emergency meeting of the Watts Gang Task Force, last Friday, with the goal of getting as much correct and verifiable information out as possible to the community.
“We’ve worked really hard to try to improve the trust factor in South Los Angeles. We need to stay on top of this and out in front as much as we can, by putting out accurate and good information.”
Meanwhile, CCCOP’s Shine said the family has been holding car washes in the Imperial Courts to raise money to bury Davis.
The final car wash is scheduled for today at 114th and Croesus, and Lewis will be there collecting donations. The funeral is planned for Friday.