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News Release

Thursday, January 2, 2003

Media Relations

Officer Involved Shooting with Knife Wielding Suspect

"Officer Involved Shooting with Knife Wielding Suspect"


Los Angeles: On Wednesday, January 1, 2003, at approximately 3:30 PM, Suspect Jesse Hernandez, who had a history of mental illness, was experiencing a violent psychotic episode at his residence, located in the 100 block of North Fickett Street. Hernandez’ two brothers became concerned with their brothers violent behavior and responded to Hollenbeck Area Police Station to seek assistance.

Hollenbeck Area officers and a supervisor responded to the location, assessed Hernandez’ violent behavior and requested the assistance of the Mental Evaluation Unit’s (MEU) System-Wide Mental Assessment Response Team (SMART). Personnel from SMART determined Hernandez had been committed to mental health care facilities on prior occasions and was presently off his medication.

Hollenbeck officers established a tactical plan to enter the residence and apprehend Hernandez for his protection and the protection of others. As the Hollenbeck officers attempted to make entry into the residence, Hernandez attempted to stab one of the officers with a hunting knife. The Hollenbeck officers backed away from the residence and Hernandez barricaded himself within the residence.

Hollenbeck personnel contacted Metropolitan Division, Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) personnel, who responded and assumed the tactical responsibility of the incident. The Crisis Negotiation Team (CNT), which includes a Department psychologist, attempted to establish telephone contact with Hernandez, but he did not answer the telephone. Other attempts to communicate with Hernandez also failed. Unable to coax Hernandez out through verbal communication, SWAT officers utilized copious amounts of tear gas in an attempt to get him to comply. The tear gas failed to persuade Hernandez to surrender.

At approximately 7:30 PM, as SWAT officers were outside the location formulating an entry plan to apprehend Hernandez, he threw a machete at them and then charged them holding a knife in each hand. SWAT Officer Richard Alba, 38 years old, 14 years with the Department, in fear for his life and that of his partner officers, fired at the charging suspect with a less lethal multi-role projectile launcher. Fearing for his life and that of his partner officers, SWAT Officer Troy Thomas, 34 years old, 13 years with the Department, fired at the suspect with a shotgun. Wounded by the shotgun, Hernandez was pronounced dead at scene.

The investigation of this incident is ongoing and is being conducted by the Department’s Critical Incident Investigation Division and Robbery Homicide Division.

For further information, contact Media Relations Section at 213-485-3586.

This press release was prepared by Sergeant John Pasquariello, LAPD Media Relations Section.