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**The following information is based on a preliminary, ongoing investigation which continues to evolve as investigators interview witnesses, review physical and electronic records, and analyze forensic evidence. The Department’s understanding of the facts and circumstances may change as additional evidence is collected and analyzed**
Los Angeles: Officers conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle for vehicle code violations. During the traffic stop the driver exited the vehicle armed with a handgun, at which time an officer involved shooting occurred.
On Tuesday, August 9, 2016, around 1:00 a.m., Northeast Patrol Division Police Officer Enrique Meraz, Serial No. 41215 and his partner were in the area of the 5400 block of Nordyke Street. They saw a black Honda Accord commit several traffic violations and initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle. The vehicle stopped and during the course of the investigation the officers discovered a female passenger had an arrest warrant for a narcotics violation. The female was handcuffed and placed in the rear of the police vehicle. The officers approached the vehicle where the driver, 34-year-old Joseph Hatami, was still seated in the driver’s seat. Officer Meraz was on the passenger side and his partner on the driver’s side of the vehicle. Looking through the open passenger door, Officer Meraz saw Hatami looking in the direction of his partner, arm himself with a handgun and begin to step out of the vehicle toward his partner. Fearing for his partner’s life, Officer Meraz fired twice at Hatami, striking him once.
The Los Angeles Fire Department responded to the scene and transported Hatami to a local hospital. Hatami was treated for a gunshot wound to his buttocks.
The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office reviewed the case and filed one count of Felon in Possession of a Firearm.
This is the 15th incident in 2016 where a suspect used a firearm or replica firearm to threaten an LAPD officer resulting in a use of deadly force. In 2015, there were 19 incidents involving a suspect with a firearm and 6 additional incidents where the suspect used a replica firearm or pellet gun.
LAPD’s specialized Force Investigation Division is conducting a thorough investigation of the officer-involved shooting which will be presented to the Chief of Police and the Board of Police Commissioners to determine whether the use of deadly force and tactics employed by the officers complied with LAPD’s policies and procedures. The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office will also review the evidence collected during the investigation to determine whether any criminal laws were violated.
Anyone with additional information regarding this incident is urged to call the LAPD at any of the following numbers:
During business hours at (213) 486-5230; During non-business hours or on weekends at (877)-LAPD-24-7 (877-527-3247); Anonymously 24-hours a day to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477) or by texting “LAPD” and your tip to phone number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S); or Online at www.lapdonline.org and click on “Anonymous Web Tips.