LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — It was an emotional scene Tuesday as the family of a man killed by police for holding what was later discovered to be a toy gun learned the Los Angeles police oversight panel ruled the killing was justified.
“I hope one of your babies gets taken away!” distraught mother Valerie Rivera screamed at the LAPD board of commissioners after their 5-0 decision declaring the 2017 shooting of Eric Rivera was within LAPD policy.
“I wanna move past this. I want peace in my heart,” Rivera told the panel as she cried. “I want peace for my children.”
Rivera’s 20-year-old son Eric was killed the night of June 6, 2017 after police in Wilmington received a call of a man with gun. An attorney for Rivera’s family said at the time that he told the two officers to leave him alone before they opened fire on him for holding what they thought was a gun. The lawyer further claimed they shot Rivera while their patrol vehicle was still moving. Rivera ended up under the cruiser, which had to be lifted by a crane off Rivera’s body.
Outside the police commission Tuesday, Rivera’s family cried and screamed, disappointed in the ruling, but determined to continue their fight.
“Whether or not the shooting was justified, whether or not their loved one is at fault, it doesn’t decrease their sorrow, and I understand that,” LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said Tuesday.
The family said it plans to protest outside L.A. County District Attorney Jackie Lacey’s office Friday, making it the 26th week in a row they do so.
The day after the shooting, police said they had found a toy gun near Rivera’s body, though they offered no description or explanation as to how it got there.
The family’s attorney claimed the gun was fluorescent green.
“It doesn’t look like a gun; it looks like Buzz Lightyear’s ray gun,” attorney Arnoldo Casillas told CBS2 News last year. “It’s absolutely impossible to believe that any reasonably trained officer would confuse that water pistol from a real gun, and if that’s their claim, they should be ashamed.”
Casillas said the officers shot Rivera while their car was still moving, adding that the “only reason his body ended up under the car was because they didn’t put it in park.”
The family has filed a federal lawsuit against the LAPD, alleging the officers used excessive force.