Family of man killed by police seeks U.S. probe
A Long Beach officer says he thought the 19-year-old was pointing a gun at him.
The family of an unarmed man fatally shot by Long Beach police is calling for an independent investigation of the killing by the U.S. Justice Department.
Hector Morejon, 19, was shot and killed Thursday by a Long Beach police officer who said he believed he was pointing a gun at him during a trespassing and vandalism incident.
Morejon’s family issued a statement Saturday demanding that the city and Police Department suspend the officer, as well as provide his name and badge number.
Morejon’s family also is requesting that the Justice Department conduct a criminal investigation “to determine how and why an unarmed teenage kid was killed.”
They want “justice and accountability” from the Long Beach Police Department.
“Long Beach police should allow an independent inquest,” said Sonia Mercado, one of the family’s attorneys. “How can they investigate themselves?”
Hector’s mother, Lucia Morejon, was at home when she heard the shots, then went to an alley near her home to see what had happened, according to the family’s attorneys, R. Samuel Paz and Mercado.
She said she saw a flurry of police activity and then her son lying in an ambulance. He propped himself up and said, “Mommy, Mommy, please come, please come,” his attorneys said.
“The only thing replaying in [Lucia Morejon’s] head is ‘He was talking to me. He reached out,’” Mercado said. “She feels she has a right to know what happened.”
Police said officers received a report that several people were trespassing and vandalizing a vacant apartment in the 1100 block of Hoffman Avenue.
They arrived to find an open window in the back of the apartment and a broken window.
An officer looked into the apartment and saw a man standing against a wall, then turn toward him, police said.
The man bent his knees and extended his arm “as if pointing an object, which the officer perceived was a gun,” resulting in an officerinvolved shooting, police said.
No weapons were found at the scene. The apartment was spray-painted with gang-related graffiti, police said.
“Objects were collected from the scene, but it has not been yet determined at this point in the investigation if those objects were what the officer observed,” department spokeswoman Sgt. Megan Zabel said. “We are not describing evidentiary detail on what those objects are at this time, as with how many times the suspect was shot.”
Morejon’s family attorney rejected the gang allegation and ties.
The department, Zabel said, moves all officers involved in a shooting from their field duties to another position until a critical incident review is performed by the department.
From January 2000 to Monday, 41 people have been killed in officer-involved shootings in Long Beach, according to the Los Angeles Times Homicide Report.
— Sonia Mercado, ‘Long Beach police should allow an independent inquest. How can they investigate themselves?’
an attorney for the Morejon family