Sunday, October 10, 2010

Deputy shooting at West Hollywood liquor store under investigation

Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators are looking into how a West Hollywood liquor store manager who called 911 to report a robbery was mistaken for a suspect and shot at by a deputy.

Authorities were called to the store near Crescent Heights and Santa Monica boulevards early Sunday. Suspect descriptions at the time were limited: a black man with a handgun, and a black woman.

Soon after, two deputies pulled in and parked around the corner from the store and the store’s manager ran around the corner to meet them, said Capt. Mike Parker. At least one of the deputies mistook the manager, who is also black, for the suspect, Parker said.

The manager began pointing his index finger behind the deputies in the direction the suspects fled, but the deputy mistakenly believed the man was pointing a gun at them, Parker said.

When the man ignored the deputy’s commands and continued gesturing, the deputy shot eight rounds in his direction, Parker said.

All of the gunshots missed, and the manager was not injured. No gun was found at the scene, authorities said.
The manager may have been holding keys, said Michael Gennaco, who heads up the Office of Independent Review, a Sheriff's Department watchdog. Gennaco, who arrived at the scene soon after the shooting, said the manager appeared unharmed.

“He’s pointing, saying ‘Hey they’re getting away’ and the deputies are thinking he’s going to shoot,” Gennaco said. “Eight rounds later there are still a lot of questions.”

The deputy who shot at the manager was a trainee and was accompanied by his training officer, Gennaco said. He had responded to the scene of another robbery at the same liquor store just three weeks earlier, Parker said.

Gennaco called the physical description of the male suspect as “not much of a description.”

“It’s a difficult assessment, but the deputies have to make the correct assessment whether someone is aggressing ... or is just trying to point out the departing suspects,” he said.

Gennaco said the deputy’s relatively short experience in the field would be considered. The department has launched multiple investigations into the shooting, including separate inquires by internal affairs and department detectives.

Parker said the investigations would have to be completed before it could be determined if protocol was broken, but he defended the deputy’s actions. “Here he is rolling into an armed robbery at a place that was robbed three weeks ago. Already tensions are high,” Parker said.

The street was dark, the limited physical description matched and the man was pointing with a gesture similar to children “playing cops and robbers” and miming holding a gun, Parker said.

“We don’t want to be critical of somebody when they’ve gone through this traumatic experience, but it’s really best if and when you call 911 and ... you’re going to come outside that you keep your hands in plain sight,” Parker said. “We don’t know who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. That’s what we’re coming to find out."

The confusion was compounded by an apparent language barrier, Parker said. The shop manager is an African immigrant with a thick accent, he said.

Neither of the robbers has been arrested, and both were last seen fleeing south on Havenhurst Drive. Windows at a store across the street from the robbery site were said to be shattered by the gunfire.

Parker said the deputy would likely not be back on patrol immediately, as is customary after shootings.


CA: Victory for open carry against lawless police chief: "Faced with the certainty of a Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit the Police Chief of Manhattan Beach backed down on his threat. The open carry controversy in Manhattan Beach had made all of the network television news. It was now a national story. Even the National Rifle Association (NRA) which treats the Open Carry Movement as a bastard child had taken notice and reluctantly, very reluctantly I might add, said that they would get involved if an arrest were made, but not otherwise. The only hope we have is in the Federal Courts, the California Courts being corrupt long before any of us were born. If you do a Google search on "Open Carry" you will discover that the movement is quickly learning how easily, and cheaply, one can bring a Federal Civil Rights lawsuit against your local government. You see folks, you can fight City Hall. If you fight them in Federal Court."

Utah: Concealed carry without a permit?: "One Utah lawmaker may soon make it easier for people to carry a concealed weapon without first obtaining a permit. There are more illegal guns on the streets than police can keep up with. Representative Stephen Sandstrom of Orem has an idea on how to combat the problem. “Right now, the gang bangers, the bad guys they can’t qualify for a permit. They are carrying without a permit anyway. The only ones being harmed are law abiding citizens. Some don’t have money or time to take a course to defend themselves.” Sandstrom wants to make it easier for them by possibly changing the law to allow people to carry concealed loaded guns without a permit. “All of the other rules would apply to them such as you wouldn’t be able to carry it in a church or at a school.”

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