06/16/2006

LA sheriff orders probe after deputies fire 70 rounds at motorist

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES- The Los Angeles County sheriff ordered an investigation into the fatal shooting of a 27-year-old motorist by deputies, who fired 70 rounds at the man after a high-speed chase.

It was at least the third time in 13 months that deputies had fired off more than 50 rounds at a suspect.

"Obviously, we have to look at this very closely," Sheriff Lee Baca said Thursday. "We will know the motivation of each of the shooters. They know what the policy is here. Because it is the heat of battle, it doesn't dismiss your objectivity."

Deputies began pursuing Carl Williams on Tuesday after they saw him driving erratically and tried to pull him over, Capt. Ray Peavy said. Williams allegedly drove 60 mph down an alley before plowing into a patrol car, striking a light pole and then backing into another cruiser.

The six deputies on the scene opened fire from relatively close range, killing Williams. It was unclear how many times Williams was hit.

Michael Gennaco, head of a sheriff's watchdog agency called the Office of Independent Review, said investigators will examine whether deputies needed to fire so many rounds and whether they endangered residents of nearby apartment buildings.

In previous incidents, deputies in January fired more than 50 shots into a house where a suspect was holed up. Last spring, deputies in Compton fired 120 rounds at a suspect and some bullets flew into nearby homes; nine sheriff's deputies later issued a televised apology.

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