‘I want jus­tice for him’

Friends, fam­ily gather for shoot­ing vic­tim Wal­ter DeLeon

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

Dozens of peo­ple gath­ered in Los Feliz on Satur­day evening for a walk to show sup­port for an un­armed man who was shot and crit­i­cally wounded by Los An­ge­les po­lice a week ago.

About 60 of Wal­ter DeLeon’s rel­a­tives, friends and co-work­ers slowly walked along Los Feliz Boule­vard to the grassy patch where he was shot, car­ry­ing gray tow­els to rep­re­sent what he was hold­ing when an of­fi­cer opened fire.

DeLeon’s niece held up a card­board sign — “Jus­tice for Wal­ter!” — that prompted honks and cheers from pass­ing cars. His 80-year-old mother cried as she pushed her walker up the hill. DeLeon’s 17-year-old daugh­ter led the group, us­ing one of the tow­els to wipe away her own tears.

DeLeon’s fam­ily said they wanted to raise more aware­ness about the June 19 shoot­ing in hopes more wit­nesses would come for­ward. But, they added, they also want to see an end to po­lice shoot­ings.

“I want jus­tice for him,” said DeLeon’s mother, Elisa, her voice break­ing. “My son is not an an­i­mal. He is a hu­man.”

DeLeon, 48, was shot along a busy stretch of Los Feliz Boule­vard af­ter po­lice said he ap­proached two offi- cers “ag­gres­sively” and pointed at them, his hands cov­ered in a gray cloth. The LAPD said the of­fi­cers or­dered him to drop what they thought was a weapon, but that he did not com­ply and kept mov­ing to­ward the of­fi­cers.

One of­fi­cer, Cairo Pala­cios, opened fire, strik­ing DeLeon in the head. No gun was found.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the shoot­ing is on­go­ing. It re­mains un­clear why DeLeon ap­proached po­lice; the LAPD has said no bro­ken-down car was found nearby and that there was no in­di­ca­tion he had a hand in­jury re­quir­ing as­sis­tance.

DeLeon’s fam­ily dis­puted the po­lice nar­ra­tive, say­ing DeLeon was not known to be ag­gres­sive. An at­tor­ney rep­re­sent­ing DeLeon’s mother and sis­ter said they had found dozens of wit­nesses who also con­tra­dicted the LAPD’s ac­count, but de­clined to de­tail what they said.

DeLeon’s two teenage chil­dren have vis­ited their fa­ther daily in the hos­pi­tal, where he re­mains in crit­i­cal con­di­tion. “I just want him to wake up,” his daugh­ter, Gis­selle, said.

When they ar­rived at the place where DeLeon was shot, his rel­a­tives and friends dropped their gray tow­els in a small pile around a can­dle and some flow­ers. Later, they stood in a cir­cle, hold­ing hands and hug­ging. DeLeon’s child­hood best friend said the Lord’s Prayer.

As peo­ple be­gan to leave the makeshift me­mo­rial, DeLeon’s sis­ter walked away with her mother. Yo­vanna DeLeon, 45, de­scribed her older brother as a lov­ing, re­spect­ful man, but de­clined to say more, call­ing it “a long day.”

But she changed her mind, flag­ging down a re­porter to say one more thing.

“I want to send a mes­sage to [LAPD Chief] Char­lie Beck, any­body, that some­thing has to change,” she said. “They’re sup­posed to serve and pro­tect.... They did not serve. And they most def­i­nitely did not pro­tect.”

Pho­tog raphs by Luis Sinco Los An­ge­les Times

AT A GATH­ER­ING in Los Feliz, fam­ily friend Rollin Binzer com­forts Elisa DeLeon, the mother of Wal­ter DeLeon, who was shot and crit­i­cally wounded in a con­fronta­tion with Los An­ge­les po­lice last week.

A PHOTO of DeLeon is dis­played. The 48-year-old fa­ther of two re­mains in crit­i­cal con­di­tion.

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