LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Two LA County Sheriff’s deputies fatally shot a man in the Florence area of South Los Angeles Saturday night.
The shooting took place in the 6100 block of Miramonte Boulevard just after 9 p.m. Saturday.
Deputies and the man’s family agree on that much. But from there, their stories differ widely.
Officials said the man — now identified as 50-year-old Terry Laffitte — fought with them and pulled a gun before they killed him. They insist he was a threat. His family told KCAL9s’ Rachel Kim nothing could be further from the truth.
Investigators said Lafitte was riding his bike erratically and that the bike didn’t have a head or tail light. They said he also appeared to be intoxicated.
Officials said Laffitte refused to stop and continued to ride away from them. He reportedly rode his bike down an alley to the back of a residence at the 6100 block of Miramonte.
Deputies say at one point, the suspect began fighting with them and ended up knocking himself and deputies to the ground. Officials said members of the suspect’s family exited the house and began yelling and kicking at them.
Laffitte’s family says he had a criminal history — including drug and assault charges. But they also said that was years ago and that he had turned his life around.
They say he was unarmed and defenseless when deputies opened fire on the 50-year-old.
Sandra Cotton, Laffitte’s sister, told Kim, “They killed my brother. They killed him like he was an animal in the streets.”
She heard commotion and came out of their house. She said she saw one deputy hitting her brother with a flashlight while the other deputy had him in a hold, choking him by the neck. She said they were all standing.
Family members said they tried to break it up but they were ordered to stay on the ground.
Lt. John Corina said Laffitte hit one of the deputies and took them both to the ground. “He’s a big guy, about 6 feet, 1 [inch]. He’s 300 pounds and they start wrestling on the ground with this guy.”
Corina said Laffitte drew a weapon and the deputies had no choice but to fire. He also said Laffitte had two weapons on him. “He had one gun, that was a real hand gun … a revolver … and they found one [weapon] under him, a replica.”
Kim asked Cotton if her brother owned a handgun. “No, he didn’t. And I’m going to do everything I have, everything in my power, to make sure they pay for my brother’s death.”
Cotton said several family members recorded what happened on cell phones — but they were confiscated. Sheriff’s officials told Kim, that was simply “not true.”
The DA and Coroner’s office are both investigating.