Los Angeles: An off-duty Los Angeles Police Department detective may have foiled a burglary spree early this morning, May 15, 2006, after he confronted a man who tried to enter the officer’s private car while the officer was inside.
Detective Won Chu was sitting in his family car, parked in front of his home around 2:40 AM in West Covina, when a man walked up and tried to open the passenger door. Detective Chu got out of his car and confronted the man, who was holding a black object in his hand.
Despite Chu’s orders to the man at gunpoint, the apparent burglar refused to comply. The man maneuvered around Chu’s car then stepped off the curb toward Chu. At that point, Detective Chu fired one warning shot into the ground next to the suspect.
Hearing the shot, the man lay down on the ground. As Chu attempted to handcuff the suspect, three additional suspects confronted him from a nearby car. At that point, West Covina police arrived and detained all four suspects.
Police found that a number of cars in the area had been broken into. All four of the suspects were arrested for attempted burglary.
Neither Chu, nor any of the suspects was injured in the incident.
The West Covina Police Department will investigate all the criminal aspects of the incident, including the burglaries and the legality of Detective Chu’s weapon discharge.
Los Angeles Police Department policy does not directly prohibit firing warning shots. According to LAPD policy, "generally, warning shots should not be fired," recognizing that in some circumstances, a warning shot can be a reasonable alternative. All LAPD officer-involved shootings are reviewed for three elements: the officer’s tactics preceding and during the incident, the decision to draw the weapon, and the firing of the weapon.
The LAPD’s Force Investigation Division will conduct the administrative investigation of Chu’s shooting, which will be reviewed by the chief of police, and ruled on by the Police Commission.
Detective Chu is a 21-year veteran of LAPD, assigned to the Rampart Police Station. He is 44 years old.