More de­tails on LAPD shoot­ings

Chief says a man was hurt af­ter a fight with of­fi­cers who saw a gun. In 2nd fa­tal case, a toy gun was found.

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

Chief says a man was hurt af­ter a fight with of­fi­cers who saw a gun. In a sec­ond fa­tal case, a toy gun was found.

An 18-year-old re­mained in crit­i­cal con­di­tion Tues­day, days af­ter he was shot by po­lice fol­low­ing a fight with Los An­ge­les po­lice of­fi­cers in a Mon­tecito Heights drive­way.

L.A. Po­lice De­part­ment Chief Char­lie Beck of­fered new de­tails about the events lead­ing up to Thurs­day’s shoot­ing of Pe­dro Echev­er­ria, telling the city’s po­lice com­mis­sion­ers that one of­fi­cer saw him hold­ing a gun dur­ing the strug­gle. Echev­er­ria be­gan to run and then turned to­ward the of­fi­cers, Beck said, prompt­ing po­lice to fire.

Ac­tivists have ral­lied around Echev­er­ria, spread­ing his name on so­cial me­dia with a hash­tag and hold­ing a week­end vigil at the hospi­tal where he is be­ing treated.

Of­fi­cers stopped Echev­er­ria in the 4400 block of Turquoise Street about 3:15 p.m. Thurs­day, the LAPD has said. Beck did not say why the of­fi­cers did so but said Echev­er­ria had re­cently been ar­rested for hav­ing a gun.

Dur­ing that en­counter, Beck told the Po­lice Com­mis­sion, of­fi­cers no­ticed a bulge in his shorts in an area where a gun could be hid­den. The of­fi­cers tried to get “ver­bal com­pli­ance,” Beck said. At some point, the fight be­gan.

Dar­lene Es­calante had just sent her daugh­ter to the kitchen when she heard a scuf­fle in her drive­way. Es­calante, who knows Echev­er­ria’s mother, said she had seen him near her house when she re­turned home from run­ning er­rands. Es­calante also saw a po­lice car make a U-turn at the end of the street.

When she heard the fight, Es­calante said, she ran out the door and down the steps of her porch. As she reached the last step, she said, she heard a gun­shot. Es­calante said she watched Echev­er­ria fall to the ground as two of­fi­cers kept fir­ing.

“He wasn’t mov­ing,” she said. “I started to yell at him and I was ask­ing him not to move. I was afraid that they would shoot some more.”

Es­calante ran back in­side and grabbed her cell­phone, film­ing Echev­er­ria as he lay shirt­less in her drive­way, next to an LAPD SUV. She started call­ing his mother.

Her video shows paramedics wheel­ing Echev­er­ria away in a stretcher. “Mijo,” Es­calante re­as­sures him, “you’re OK, OK? They’re tak­ing you now.”

When asked about Es­calante’s ac­count on Tues­day, an LAPD spokesman said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was in its early stages.

“We’re still try­ing to dis­cern what hap­pened,” Josh Ruben­stein said.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors are look­ing at body cam­era footage as part of that in­quiry, Ruben­stein said. Both of­fi­cers were wear­ing the de­vices, he said, but they fell off dur­ing the strug­gle with Echev­er­ria and didn’t cap­ture the ac­tual shoot­ing.

Ruben­stein said the footage would still be use­ful to in­ves­ti­ga­tors, say­ing there was “ev­i­dence they will be able to use.”

A hand­gun was found at the scene, Beck said.

Es­calante dis­puted some of Beck’s com­ments about Echev­er­ria, whom the po­lice chief de­scribed as a known gang mem­ber. Echev­er­ria wasn’t in a gang, she said. He was “try­ing to find him­self,” she said, meet­ing with a youth coun­selor and mak­ing plans to en­roll at Pasadena City Col­lege. He grad­u­ated from high school a day be­fore he was shot, she said.

“I re­ally hope that he pulls through so he can see that he has a sec­ond chance at life,” Es­calante said.

Es­calante said the shoot­ing deeply rat­tled her.

“When I go to sleep, this is what I see,” she said. “It’s not OK.”

The shoot­ing was one of two by Los An­ge­les po­lice last week. Two days be­fore Echev­er­ria was wounded, po­lice shot and killed a 20year-old man in Wilm­ing­ton whose body was then run over by a po­lice cruiser.

Of­fi­cers went to the neigh­bor­hood about 11 p.m. on June 6 af­ter re­ceiv­ing a re­port of a man with a gun, Beck said. When they ar­rived, wit­nesses pointed them to­ward a “po­ten­tial sus­pect,” later iden­ti­fied as Eric Rivera.

Rivera was walk­ing on the side­walk along Wilm­ing­ton Boule­vard when of­fi­cers drove to­ward him, Beck said. Rivera turned to­ward them, the chief said, with what the of­fi­cers thought was a gun in his hand.

The of­fi­cers bailed out of the car so quickly they didn’t put it in park, Beck said. At least one of­fi­cer shot Rivera, who fell to the ground. The car then rolled over him.

Rivera died at the scene. Coro­ner’s of­fi­cials have listed the Lomita res­i­dent’s cause of death as mul­ti­ple gun­shot wounds, say­ing he was struck in the head and chest.

A plas­tic toy gun was found at the scene, Beck said.

Ruben­stein said in­ves­ti­ga­tors were look­ing at body cam­era footage as part of the probe.

One of the of­fi­cers was hurt dur­ing the en­counter, prompt­ing ini­tial re­ports that the of­fi­cer had been shot. Beck said Tues­day that the in­jury to the of­fi­cer’s arm was prob­a­bly caused by the car, though that had not been con­firmed.

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