Two South Los Angeles men, one African American and the other Hispanic, were involved in officer-involed shootings last weekend that left both dead.
Los Angeles police chief Charlie Beck on Tuesday released a security video of the chase leading up to the fatal police shooting of the 18-year-old Black man in South Los Angeles over the weekend.
Beck told the Los Angeles Times that he and Mayor Eric Garcetti discussed the issue and decided it was right to release the video to correct what the chief called competing accounts about Saturday’s shooting of Carnell Snell Jr., the Times reported. He said he expected to release the video Tuesday, which he later did.
The tape was taken from a nearby business and Beck said the recording showed Snell running with a gun in his hand. Many residents questioned the police account, including whether Snell had a gun.
“My huge concern is that the dueling narratives further divide the community,” Beck said. The release of the tape came as the LAPD is trying to quell protests sparked by the death of the Black teenager, who was shot on 107th Street on Oct. 1. The next day, police fatally shot another man in South L.A., a Latino. Beck has said that man pointed at officers a replica gun whose orange tip had been painted black to make it look real.
On the shooting of Snell, Beck said on Monday that officers were working near 108th Street and Western Avenue about 1 p.m. Saturday when they spotted a light blue Nissan that had paper plates that didn’t match the year of the car, prompting officers to suspect it may have been stolen.
Snell, sitting in the back seat, reportedly looked at the officers, then ducked “as if to hide from them,” Beck said. Officers started to follow the car. As they activated their lights and sirens, the car slowed and Snell got out “holding his waistband as if he was supporting something.”
Officers chased him. At some point during the 200- to 300-yard pursuit, the officers reportedly saw Snell pull out a gun and hold it in his left hand, according to Beck. They chased him to a driveway in the 1700 block of 107th Street, where Beck said Snell turned toward them, the gun still in his hand, prompting the officers to open fire, killing Snell.
A .40-caliber handgun was found a few feet from Snell’s body. It was fully loaded, according to Beck, indicating it had not been fired.
Community members came out to protest what at first what was the alleged to be the shooting of an “unarmed” Black man.
There were protests in South Los Angeles and Hancock Park in the hours following the shooting as well as the next day and prior to Beck’s announcement about the video.
At least two cars were seen Sunday night on a KCAL9 broadcast speeding and leaving spin marks in the middle of the intersection of Western Avenue and 108th Street—sometimes within feet of demonstrators—and young men were seen spray-painting windows of local businesses.
About 50 people staged a peaceful demonstration Saturday night at 108th Street and Western Avenue.
Another group of an estimated 30-to-40 protesters lined up at about 10:30 p.m. Saturday outside Mayor Eric Garcetti’s home at 6th Street and Irvine Boulevard in Hancock Park, according to Det. B. Hardy of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Olympic Station.
Protestors included members of Black Lives Matter movement including Melina Abdullah, who told reporters on the scene before the information on the surveillance video was released that she did not believe the police.
Eggs were thrown at the mayor’s home in Hancock Park overnight, according to media reports. Crews were seen cleaning egg from the roof of the home Sunday morning.
Los Angeles Urban Roundtable President Earl Ofari Hutchinson called upon LAPD officials and the police commission to “conduct an intense review of department policies on the use of deadly force.”
Hutchinson also called for a meeting with Chief Beck. “This is a critical point in relations between the police and South L.A. residents given the rising incidences of deadly force in suspect and civilian encounters,” Hutchinson said.
He noted that there have been fatal police shootings in Pasadena, El Cajon and now South Los Angeles within days of each other “It’s getting closer to home. A little too close.”
In the second incident, the man who was killed in the officer-involved shooting on Oct. 2 was armed with a replica handgun, LAPD Chief Beck said.
The shooting occurred after gang officers went to 48th Street and Ascot Avenue late Sunday afternoon after someone called in a report of a man with a gun, possibly a Beretta, Beck said. At about 5 p.m., two officers spotted a man matching the description of the gunman, Beck said.
“As the officers approached the male to initiate a pedestrian stop, the male turned and pointed a handgun at the officers, at which time there was an officer-involved shooting,” Beck said at news conference Monday at LAPD headquarters.
Paramedics took the unidentified man to a hospital, where he died.
“Officers recovered the weapon that the man had in his possession, which turned out to be a replica, Beck said. He displayed a photo of the replica gun, which “had the orange tip colored by black paint or a black felt pen, in order to conceal the fact that it is a replica,” the chief said.
Beck said the officers were wearing body-worn video cameras, and he viewed the video Monday.
“It clearly supports the officers’ prior statements and versions of this incident, and it clearly refutes any reports that this individual … was shot while he was laying on the ground,” Beck said. “That did not happen.”
As of Tuesday, police still had not identified the man and requested that anyone knowing the fatally wounded man’s identity, or who has any other information on the case, is urged to call (877) LAPD-247.
Mayor Garcetti offered this comment on the two incidents: “Our city has worked hard for two decades to make our communities safer and to build bonds of trust between our neighborhood residents and the police officers who serve them. I would appeal for everyone to come together as a city and to wait for the completion of a thorough and proper investigation of (the weekend’s) events. I want to thank community members who have been part of the investigation as witnesses and caring residents, as well as Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson and the LAPD personnel who together with the Mayor’s Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development ambassadors have been keeping the peace and engaging with the community.”
According to Hutchinson, while Chief Beck has not responded to his suggestions about a review of policies, Mayor Garcetti did respond, and has promised that a review is in order and the release of use of force guidelines will be addressed.
Specifically, the activist is seeking public disclosure of the LAPD’s use of deadly force policy, prompt disclosure of names of officer’s involved in shootings, release of body cam footage of officer encounters where force is used, a major emphasis on de-escalation of use of force in civilian encounters, and rigid officer discipline standards for use of force violations.
Hutchinson attributes the rash of police shootings around the country in part to the fierce climate of racial division stirred by Trump, the militarization of police departments, and the total absence of accountability (i.e. prosecutions) of excessive force and misconduct.
City News Service contributed to this story.