Shoot­ing wit­nesses said to back po­lice

LAPD says they, like the of­fi­cers, thought an un­armed man in Los Feliz had a gun.

Los Angeles Times - - LOS ANGELES - By Kate Mather kate. mather@ latimes. com

Los An­ge­les po­lice of­fi­cials said wit­nesses to an of­fi­cer- in­volved shoot­ing of an un­armed man in Los Feliz last week told in­ves­ti­ga­tors they also be­lieved the man had a gun when he walked to­ward of­fi­cers.

Wal­ter Wil­liam DeLeon was shot Fri­day evening on Los Feliz Boule­vard af­ter po­lice said he pointed his cloth­cov­ered hands at of­fi­cers, lead­ing them to think he had a gun hid­den un­der the gray cloth. They or­dered him to drop the weapon, but he kept walk­ing “ag­gres­sively” to­ward them, the LAPD said, prompt­ing one of­fi­cer to open fire.

No gun was found. DeLeon re­mained in crit­i­cal con­di­tion Wed­nes­day.

Po­lice said sev­eral wit­nesses backed the of­fi­cers’ ac­count. They de­clined to iden­tify the wit­nesses.

But an at­tor­ney rep­re­sent­ing DeLeon’s fam­ily re­jected the LAPD’s ac­count of the shoot­ing, say­ing the 48- year- old fa­ther of two was a car­ing fam­ily man who wasn’t known to be com­bat­ive.

“It’s com­pletely in­con­sis­tent with ev­ery sin­gle thing that we know about him,” at­tor­ney Ben Meise­las said. “At this point, ev­ery­thing that’s be­ing said just sim­ply doesn’t pass the smell test.”

Meise­las said DeLeon lived just a few miles away from where he was shot and liked to walk in the area. When he did, Meise­las said, he car­ried a towel to wipe away sweat.

“We’ve heard the ex­cuses be­fore, the of­fi­cers say­ing, ‘ He was reach­ing in his waist­band,’ ” Meise­las said. “Now that line doesn’t work any­more. Now we hear, ‘ He’s car­ry­ing a towel.’ ”

Keith Greco, who hired DeLeon for odds- and- ends jobs through his prop rental com­pany, de­scribed DeLeon as a hard- work­ing, po­lite per­son. Greco said he had “never seen a con­fronta­tional bone in him.”

Court and prison records showed DeLeon spent less than a year in state prison dur­ing the early 1990s af­ter he was con­victed of dis­charg­ing a firearm with gross neg­li­gence.

The Los An­ge­les Po­lice Depart­ment’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Fri­day’s shoot­ing re­mains on­go­ing. Depart­ment of­fi­cials said the of­fi­cers were stopped in traf­fic when they saw DeLeon walk­ing to­ward Los Feliz Boule­vard, with his arms ex­tended and his hands cov­ered by the cloth.

“DeLeon be­gan point­ing his arms to­ward the of­fi­cers and con­tin­ued walk­ing to­ward them in an ag­gres­sive man­ner,” an LAPD state­ment said. “Based on DeLeon’s ac­tions, the of­fi­cers be­lieved he was point­ing a gun to­ward them.”

LAPD Cmdr. An­drew Smith said in­ves­ti­ga­tors were still try­ing to de­ter­mine why DeLeon ap­proached the of­fi­cers. No bro­k­endown car was found nearby, Smith said, and there was no in­jury to DeLeon’s hand in­di­cat­ing that he needed help.

The shoot­ing oc­curred along a stretch of Los Feliz Boule­vard pop­u­lar among jog­gers and peo­ple walk­ing dogs. Res­i­dents in­ter­viewed by The Times said they saw the af­ter­math of the shoot­ing, when the of­fi­cers rolled DeLeon over and hand­cuffed him.

The two of­fi­cers, who were pa­trolling nearby Griff ith Park, have been re­moved from the f ield un­til LAPD Chief Char­lie Beck re­views the ini­tial in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The of­fi­cers’ names have not been re­leased.

The shoot­ing will also be re­viewed by the Po­lice Com­mis­sion, its in­de­pen­dent in­spec­tor gen­eral and the dis­trict at­tor­ney’s of­fice.

Mel Mel­con Los An­ge­les Times

A PEDES­TRIAN walks past the area where po­lice shot an un­armed man last week in Los Feliz. Po­lice say the man pointed his cloth- cov­ered hands at off icers. The man’s fam­ily dis­putes the LAPD’s ac­count.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.