LAPD panel: Car slowed before officer fired
Richard Winton, Times Staff Writer
Copyright 2006 Los Angeles Times
A car driven by 13-year-old Devin Brown was traveling no faster than 2 mph when a Los Angeles police officer fired at it, according to a Police Commission report released Tuesday.
The officer who fired the shots, which killed Brown, has said he acted out of fear for his life. But the speed of the car was a factor in the commission's ruling last week that the shooting violated department policy.
The commission's 4-1 majority concluded that Brown began backing up at 10.1 to 12.7 mph, scraping along the passenger side of Officer Steven Garcia's cruiser. Garcia then scrambled out of the car's path. When Garcia fired three seconds later the car was traveling 2 mph or less and he was standing to the side, the commission's report said.
Of Garcia's 10 shots, six went through a rear passenger-side window and four through an open passenger door. Seven rounds hit Brown
Garcia, identified only as "Officer A" in the report, believed a cellphone held by Brown's companion was a gun, according to the summary.
The five-page summary gives the most complete account of the investigation into the events leading up to the incident on Feb. 6, 2005, on a South Los Angeles street. The shooting occurred after Brown and a 14-year-old friend led officers on a short high-speed chase in a stolen vehicle.
The new details give the rationale for the commission's vote, which went against Chief William J. Bratton's determination that Garcia had acted in accordance with department policy. The commission determined Garcia's use of force was "not objectively reasonable."
The Police Protective League criticized the decision, with some union officials accusing the commission of trying to placate community activists by making an example of Garcia.
Although commissioners determined that the use of force violated policy, they said the tactics and Garcia's drawing his weapon did not.
The case now goes before a board of review, which will decide whether his action amounted to misconduct and what punishment he should receive. He faces punishment ranging from reprimand to termination.
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