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Los Angeles: Cedars Sinai Medical Center doctors today released LAPD Officer Andrew Taylor from the hospital, on January 23, 2007 around 12:30 P.M. His release came approximately 37 hours after he was shot in an early morning confrontation with a suspect at an apartment complex in the Westlake area of Los Angeles.
Officer Taylor suffered a gunshot wound through his armpit, above the level of his ballistic vest. Another shot directly struck his ballistic vest, the force of which bruised a lung, without penetrating the his body. At least one other round from the suspect’s gun deflected off the officer’s badge and his holstered sidearm. The gunman, 24-year-old Matthew Jerome Powell, died at the scene after three other officers returned fire in the narrow hallway of an apartment building in the 600 block of Coronado Street.
Detectives are investigating the circumstances of the shooting, which occurred January 22, just before 5:00 A.M., when Taylor and four other officers were responding to reports of a felony assault in Apartment 204. The officers confronted three men in a back bedroom and convinced them to come out.
"Powell was particularly belligerent with the officers, keeping them from doing their investigation," said LAPD spokesman Lieutenant Paul Vernon. "At one point, the officers had to force Powell to the floor and handcuff him. An officer removed several items from his pocket, including a knife."
With all the commotion going on, the officers decided to separate Powell from the others in order to calm the situation. They walked him into the hallway to Officer Taylor. The officers returned to the apartment and the door automatically closed behind them, leaving Powell in the hallway with Officer Taylor. Powell took advantage of the situation and armed himself with a gun apparently hidden among his oversized jacket and baggy clothing.
"This all happened in a matter of seconds. It’s a vivid example that a handcuffed suspect can still present a danger to officers and the public," Vernon said. "We can never allow ourselves to become complacent, nor ever underestimate the potential risk. That’s why a suspect is often patted down more than once between arrest and booking."
Hearing gunshots in the hallway, Officers William Skett, 32, James Tomeo, 35, and Joseph Getherall, 28, ran from the apartment into the hallway to assist Officer Taylor. During the struggle to control Powell, all three officers fired.
Powell’s two associates, 26-year-old Farris English and 21-year-old Christian Taliaferro, were arrested on unrelated parole and misdemeanor warrant violations, respectively. Powell had a prior arrest history for narcotics violations in North Carolina. Detectives recovered Powell’s revolver at the scene.
Officer Skett has over 7 years with the LAPD. Officer Tomeo is a 10-year veteran, and Officer Getherall has just under two years as a police officer. All the officers are assigned to the Rampart Police Station.