By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Los Angeles Police Department officer who fired the deadly shot that took the life of Mely Corado, a Trader Joe’s assistant manager, is defending his decisions as an effort to protect himself and the people around him from the armed suspect authorities were after.

A police officer accidentally killed Corado at the Silver Lake store on July 21, 2018, during a gunfight between suspect Gene Evin Atkins and police.

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The officer said he had to fire his weapon at that time to protect himself, his partner and bystanders.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office recently released a report finding that Officers Sinlen Tse and Sarah Winans were “justified in using deadly force in an attempt to stop” Atkins.

Corado’s family has urged new L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón to “please step up to the plate” and re-evaluate the assessment completed while former District Attorney Jackie Lacey was still in office.

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“I had no alternative but to fire my weapon at Gene Atkins in order to stop this deadly threat that he, himself, had created,” Tse said. “I fired based upon his actions and stopped when I realized he was moving into the Trader Joe’s entrance to avoid striking individuals inside, despite the fact that he was still considered a violent fleeing felon and continued to pose an imminent threat of serious/great bodily injury and/or death while inside Trader Joe’s.”

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“Neither I nor Officer Winans fired any additional shots due to the concern regarding the patrons inside Trader Joe’s, demonstrating one of several instances where Officer Winans and I showed restraint, control and reverence for human life,” Tse says.

Tse says he learned later that one of the five shots he fired from outside the store while pursuing Atkins was the one that mistakenly killed Corado.

“Although I had no knowledge of it at the time, the most unfortunate and catastrophic outcome took place (when) Melyda Corado was struck by gunfire,” Tse says. “Unbeknownst to me, a single bullet struck Ms. Corado in the left arm exited, and penetrated the left side of her chest.”

Before the shootout at Trader Joe’s, the officers were pursuing Atkins, who had earlier allegedly shot and injured his grandmother before he crashed outside the Trader Joe’s and began shooting at police.

“Thus, the officers’ use of force was objectively reasonable based on the facts and circumstances confronting the officers,” the lawyers for the City Attorney’s Office argue in their court papers.

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