LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office Wednesday announced four deadly shootings — three involving L.A. County Sheriff’s deputies and one involving L.A. Police officers — were legally justified.
Prosecutors concluded that sheriff’s Sgt. Kamal Ahmad and deputies Daniel Leon, Darell Edwards and Gonzalo Galvez “acted lawfully in self-defense and in the defense of others, and used reasonable force in apprehending a dangerous fleeing felon” when they shot and killed 41-year-old Eddie Tapia inside Chris’ & Pitts’ BBQ Restaurant on Sept. 10, 2015.
The nine-page report on the fatal shooting said the evidence showed that Tapia stole a car, led police on a high-speed chase, carjacked a woman when the initial stolen car became disabled and crashed into another vehicle following a PIT maneuver by a California Highway Patrol officer.
“Rather than submit to police authority, Tapia fired his weapon while exiting the car,” the report said. “He fled into a crowded restaurant and seized control of the premises by force.
“Tapia held four men hostage and was observed waving the pistol while interacting with a hostage. Even after being shot, during crisis team intervention Tapia clung to the pistol and demonstrated an intent to resist.”
Tapia was pronounced dead at the scene.
The office also determined that sheriff’s deputies acted in lawful self-defense in two other fatal shootings — the Dec. 10, 2017 killing of Frank Lopez in Artesia and the June 27, 2019 killing of Paul Rea in East Los Angeles.
Deputy Christopher Cadman fatally shot Lopez, 48, after Lopez cut Cadman and a female deputy with a knife during a struggle that ensued after Lopez abandoned his vehicle on a lawn and was found hiding among trash cans, according to the D.A.’s office.
Deputies were initially called out to the scene for reports of a suspicious person looking into cars in the neighborhood.
Deputy Hector Saavedra shot and killed Rea, 18, following a traffic stop in which the Monterey Park teen was a passenger, according to the D.A.’s office.
“Rea punched Saavedra in the temple with such force that Saavedra sustained a concussion,” according to the report, which also said Rea reached into his waistband for a gun as he attempted to flee from Saavedra.
Prosecutors also concluded that officers Christopher Montague and Fred Sigman with the Los Angeles Police Department used legally justified force when they shot and killed 32-year-old Jesse Murillo on Dec. 23, 2017 in Canoga Park.
Officers were initially called out for reports of a family disturbance. When they arrived on scene, Murillo “sprinted in the direction of Sigman” while holding what the officers believed was a machete, but turned out to be a metal tool, according to the D.A.’s office.
D.A. Jackie Lacey — who is seeking a third term as the county’s top prosecutor — has come under fire from some activists who claim she has failed to prosecute enough cases involving law enforcement.
But the D.A.’s office said that it has reviewed 252 fatal shootings by law enforcement officers between Lacey’s December 2012 swearing in and May 31 of this year, with one criminal case filed in 2018.
The office also noted that criminal charges have been filed by Lacey against more than 200 law enforcement officers for crimes including murder while off-duty, sexual assault, domestic violence and financial fraud. The office also said 24 law enforcement officers have been charged with excessive use of force.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)