• The Star Staff

Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies fatally shoot a black man they say had a gun

By Neil Vigdor and Azi Paybarah

Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies fatally shot a Black man who they said had a handgun Monday afternoon after a stop turned into a violent altercation, authorities said.

The Los Angeles County deputies handcuffed the man after firing at him several times in Westmont, a South Los Angeles neighborhood. The aftermath of the shooting was recorded by bystanders, who protested the authorities’ deadly use of force. As the day turned to evening, a crowd grew at the site of the shooting.

According to the Sheriff’s Department, the man, who was not immediately identified publicly, had been riding a bicycle when deputies tried to stop him. The reason for the stop was a code violation related to bicycle riding, according to the department, which did not elaborate on the nature of the violation.

The man fled, and deputies chased him, the department said. When they caught up with the man near West 109th Place and Budlong Avenue around 3:30 p.m., a fight began.

At a news conference, Lt. Brandon Dean of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said the man had “punched one of the officers in the face” and dropped some items he had been holding. “The deputies noticed that inside the clothing items that he dropped was a black semi-automatic handgun, at which time a deputy-involved shooting occurred,” he said.

The Sheriff’s Department said the shooting was under investigation by multiple entities, including the district attorney’s office and the Internal Affairs Bureau, which is standard practice when a civilian is killed by an officer.

The shooting took place about four miles north of where Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies fatally shot an 18-year-old Latino man five times in the back in June in Gardena, use of force that the man’s family contends had been unjustified.

The Los Angeles arm of the Black Lives Matter movement urged its supporters on Monday to mobilize, tweeting that deputies had left the man’s “body facedown in the dirt.”

Hours after the shooting, more than 100 people congregated at the scene. Protesters standing behind yellow tape held up raised fists and signs like “Black Lives Matter,” “Defund the Police” and “Resign All LASD.”

During earlier chants by the demonstrators, sheriff’s deputies stared silently back while the bright lights of two police vehicles shined at the crowd.

Taegen Meyer said she had turned out to protest to “stand with community, stand with families and show our dedication to justice.” A group of people who had been protesting for three months coordinated on the encrypted messaging app Signal, she said, declaring it an emergency action.

The shooting comes as law enforcement officers across the nation are facing intense scrutiny over the use of deadly force and biased policing after George Floyd was killed by the police in Minneapolis. His death, which was captured on a bystander’s video, fueled nationwide protests against the police and prompted some to call for departments to be defunded.

Last week, police officers in Kenosha, Wisconsin, shot a Black man, Jacob Blake, in the back while he was attempting to enter the driver’s side of an SUV during a dispute. Three of his children were in the back seat. Blake’s father told CNN on Monday that his son was paralyzed from the waist down.

President Donald Trump is scheduled to travel to Kenosha on Tuesday, a visit that state and local officials discouraged. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, has spoken with Blake’s father.

It was not immediately clear if the deputies involved in the shooting on Monday were wearing body cameras. In contrast to the Los Angeles Police Department, which is a separate law enforcement agency, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has been slow to use body cameras, The Los Angeles Times reported in June.

The newspaper cited as reasons for the delay cost factors, a lack of a consensus on who is able to get access to the camera footage and red tape. It also reported that it was not uncommon for sheriff’s deputies to wear their own body cameras.

The focus on body cameras followed two fatal shootings by sheriff’s deputies within 24 hours in June. In one case, Andres Guardado, 18, a Latino security guard, was killed by deputies in Gardena.

The Sheriff’s Department said that Guardado had been carrying a loaded firearm that had a “prohibited magazine” and that he had not been in uniform or recognized as a licensed security officer by the state. Guardado’s family has said that the killing was not justified.

At the site of the shooting on Monday, a protester who gave his name only as Vision and was handing out “Honor King: End Racism” signs, said it was powerful to bring Black Lives Matter to urban neighborhoods. “They have to understand the importance of unity and to stand up for injustice and inequality,” he said.