By Robert Jablon
LOS ANGELES — A 16-year-old boy killed while running from a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy was shot in the back without warning and never brandished a gun as authorities contend, an attorney for the teen's father said Tuesday.
A friend who was with Avery Cody never saw him with a weapon and he posed no threat to the deputy who shot him as he ran away in Compton on Sunday, said John E. Sweeney, an attorney who has handled many police abuse cases.
The boy's family wants to know why he was killed "by an agency that's sworn to protect and serve," Sweeney said.
Sheriff's homicide detectives were still investigating the case Tuesday, but preliminary evidence indicated that Cody pulled a fully loaded, .38-caliber revolver that was found near his body, said Lt. Dave Dolson, who is in charge of the probe.
"We're pretty sure how it went down," he said.
The deputy fired two shots and one hit the teen in the left side of his upper torso, not his back, Dolson said. "There's nothing that we've found thus far that is anything that would generate controversy," he said.
Residents of Compton often have had an uneasy relationship with law enforcement, and many are suspicious of police. The mainly black and Hispanic suburb south of downtown Los Angeles has struggled for decades with poverty and crime, especially gang violence.
Cody's father, Avery Sr., wants the deputy charged and "brought to justice," Sweeney said.
The boy and three friends had eaten at a local McDonald's and were crossing a street when an unmarked sheriff's patrol car stopped them "for no reason," Sweeney said, citing an account given by one of the youngsters. "They had not done anything. They were walking in a calm manner," he said.
A deputy ordered the youths to place their hands on the car, and then to lift up their T-shirts, Sweeney said. At that point, Cody ran. He was shot about 25 feet from the car, Sweeney said. Cody's friends did not see the boy with a gun, the attorney said.
"He did not pull it, he did not brandish it, no one else saw it," Sweeney said.
Dolson said two members of an anti-gang patrol stopped the four, but then declined to discuss what led the deputies to stop them, saying the details were still being investigated. He said however that the four had "associated themselves with a local street gang."
The deputy shot Cody during a chase after the boy pulled a gun and "displayed it in a manner that made the deputy fear for his life," Dolson said. No shots were fired by Cody and the deputy was not injured.
The 33-year-old deputy, an eight-year veteran, was on his regular days off and would be assigned to non-patrol duty when he returns if the investigation has not been completed, Dolson said.
Sheriff's homicide and internal affairs investigators are reviewing the shooting. Homicide investigators will turn over their results to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office, which will determine whether criminal charges should be filed.
Cody attended Zinsmeyer Academy in Long Beach, Sweeney said. The school, operated by the nonprofit organization ChildNet Youth and Family Services, provides education and training in social skills to students of local districts who are at risk of failing, according to ChildNet's Web site.
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From the beginning of the year to June 28, deputies have shot and killed four people and wounded five others, Dolson said. No deputies have been wounded.