** 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 incident may change as the investigation continues and additional evidence is collected and analyzed. **
Los Angeles: On December 19, 2015 at approximately 8:00 a.m., members of the public saw a suspect throwing glass bottles at an apartment complex in the 1600 block of West 207th Street. Several individuals attempted to stop the suspect from vandalizing the building, but when they attempted to intervene the suspect began physically fighting with them. A bystander contacted LAPD’s 9-1-1 emergency call center and Harbor Area patrol officers were dispatched to the scene.
Officers Christopher Eick and Justin Kravetz arrived at the location when the suspect, later identified as Ruben Herrera, confronted them and punched one of the officers in the face. The officers then attempted to handcuff Herrera who continued fighting with the officers by kicking and physically resisting. The officers used a TASER, but were still unable to control the suspect. Herrera then tried to take away one of the officer’s handguns. An officer then applied an upper body control hold which enabled the officers to take Herrera into custody.
The officers requested a rescue ambulance and Herrera was transported to Harbor UCLA Medical Center for treatment. The arresting officers were also transported to a local hospital due to injuries suffered while taking Herrera into custody.
While at the hospital, medical personnel examined Herrera who was handcuffed to a hospital gurney. When the medical personnel cleared Herrera to be transported to jail, Southeast Area officers Alejandro Downey and Joseph Adragna unlocked his handcuff from the gurney and attempted to cuff him behind his back. Herrera, however, began punching and kicking the officers, trying to escape. In addition, Herrera grabbed a heavy metal stool, swung it violently and struck Officer Downey. Both officers attempted to subdue Herrera with their TASERs but he continued to fight, threw the metal stool at them, and then continued punching and kicking both officers. During the violent struggle, Officer Adragna fell onto his back and Herrera then jumped on top of him striking Officer Adragna and attempting to take Officer Adragna’s handgun from his holster. Officer Downey continued to use his TASER on Herrera but Herrera continued to fight and then turned and attempted to take Officer Downey’s weapon. Officer (more) Downey was eventually able to unholster his weapon and when Herrera attempted to grab the gun again, Officer Downey fired one round from his handgun striking Herrera. Emergency room personnel immediately began lifesaving measures but he later died. The officers were also treated for injuries suffered during the violent struggle with Herrera.
LAPD’s specialized Force Investigation Division (FID) responded to both incidents and began interviewing witnesses and collecting forensic and other evidence. FID’s ongoing investigation will include interviews of additional witnesses, statements from the involved officers, information from the Coroner’s investigation including the autopsy results and toxicology analysis, collection and analysis of any video evidence, examination of the weapons, ballistics comparisons, analysis of clothing, and DNA comparisons.
The completed investigation will be reviewed by the Chief of Police and the Board of Police Commissioners to determine whether the uses of force complied with LAPD’s policies and procedures. In addition, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Justice System Integrity Division will conduct a comprehensive review of both incidents to determine whether any of the officers’ actions violated California criminal statutes.
Anyone with information regarding either incident is asked to call LAPD’s Force Investigation Division at 213-486-5230. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (877-527-3247). Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477). Tipsters may also contact Crime Stoppers by texting to phone number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Tipsters may also go to LAPDOnline.org, click on “webtips” and follow the prompts.