LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Two Los Angeles police officers will be disciplined for fatally shooting a woman who was being held hostage by a knife-wielding man in Van Nuys back in June of 2018.
The L.A. Board of Police Commissioners Tuesday voted unanimously that two of the three officers involved in the shooting that resulted in the deaths of 32-year-old Guillermo Perez and his hostage, 49-year-old Elizabeth Tollison, acted out of compliance with the department’s policies.
The board’s vote was in agreement with LAPD Chief Michel Moore, who issued a report on the incident. It’s unclear exactly how Moore will discipline the two officers.
On the afternoon of June 16, 2018, officers responded to a homeless outreach center in the 6400 block of Tyrone Avenue on a report of a man with a knife assaulting a woman. After a tense standoff, officers fatally shot Perez as he held a large serrated knife to the neck of Tollison. She was struck twice by gunfire and died two days later at a hospital.
The bodycam footage of the shooting was released the following month.
According to Moore, officers had ordered Perez to drop his knife, but he refused, ultimately holding it to Tollison’s neck. An officer had fired a beanbag shotgun during the confrontation, but it failed to stop Perez and the officers were forced to fire their handguns as the suspect pressed the knife into his hostage’s neck, Moore said. Eighteen rounds were fired.
Perez was a documented gang member who had previously been convicted of robbery, police said.
The officers involved in the shooting were previously identified by the LAPD as Eugene Damiano, Andrew Trock and Cristian Bonilla, but Moore’s report redacted all the names and it was not clear which officers were found to have used their firearms out of policy. Moore stated that the officers were not in the proper positioning at the time of the shooting.
Moore’s report found that all three of the officers did not formulate a clear plan or did not take proper cover, per the department’s policies. Moore also characterized the shooting as a “rapidly unfolding” tactical situation in which the officers had to make immediate decisions. One officer quoted in Moore’s report said that because the beanbag shotgun was not effective, lethal force was necessary, and Moore said he concurred with the decision.
Moore is the authority on how disciplinary actions are handled within the department.
Last August, Tollison’s husband and adult children filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the LAPD.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)