LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — There were “issues with supervision at the scene” where three police officers fatally shot an unarmed man following a high-speed chase last year and they should not have fired their weapons, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said Thursday.
It marked the first time Beck has spoken out about the incident.
Beck recently disputed the officers’ claims that they opened fire on 51-year-old Brian Newt Beaird on Dec. 13, 2013, because they feared their lives were in danger.
“I didn’t find them not truthful. I did not believe that they faced a credible threat,” Beck said.
He wrote in a 22-page report to the Police Commission that the officers’ “stated reasons” for opening fire “were unsupported by the evidence and actual actions of the suspect.”
KNX 1070’s Pete Demetriou reports the shooting followed a nearly hour-long nighttime pursuit for allegedly reckless driving that ended when the Corvette hit a car in an intersection, seriously injuring the other driver, and then spun onto a downtown sidewalk.
Authorities said they tried to pull Beaird over for driving recklessly.
“We had some issues with supervision at the scene,” said Beck. “We had a number of issues in this incident.”
Beaird’s father, Billy Beaird, watched live as his son, a 51-year-old disabled veteran who served with the National Guard for eight years, staggered out of the Corvette, briefly raised his hands, was fatally shot multiple times in the front and back, and fell to the ground.
Beaird’s brother John said, “We’re pretty angry. I mean, there didn’t seem that there was justification for what happened.”
John, who lives in Central California, said his brother contacted family during the chase: “He just kept saying,’Why are they after me? I didn’t do anything.’ My dad had tried to tell him to pull over.”
City leaders agreed in August to pay $5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by Beaird’s family.
“There are things that can never be repaired. One of the reasons that the city, at my urging, settled this one so early was to try to make things as right as we could,” said the police chief.
The Police Commission, the civilian panel that oversees the department, unanimously approved Beck’s findings last month.
While saying the officers who shot at Beaird were “inaccurate in their assessment of the situation,” Beck stopped short of accusing the officers of providing false information in their individual accounts of the shooting.
“These are officers who did not get up that morning to become involved in an officer-involved shooting,” he said. “These are officers who did not perform to their training.”
The police chief would not comment on what disciplinary action, if any, the officers would receive. He can either fire them, suspend them or mandate they undergo additional training. The officers have been on paid leave since the fatal shooting.
Attorney Dale Galipo, who represented Beaird’s parents in the lawsuit, previously said the shooting was indicative of a larger problem nationally that needs to be addressed.
Galipo said there’ve been thousands of police shootings in Los Angeles County over the last 30 years but “not one criminal prosecution of a police officer for a shooting. And that is why many members of the public think the system is unfair.”
He added: “If anyone other than a police officer had done that shooting (of Beaird) that would be first-degree murder. They would be in jail without bail.”
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