Los Angeles: In recent weeks, Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers were involved in five incidents that resulted in an officer-involved shooting (OIS). While each incident had a different set of circumstances, there were some common threads with year to date totals for 2021.
The recent OIS incidents have occurred while our officers are responding to violent actions by armed suspects, a trend that is consistent with the increase in violence we are experiencing in the City, including an increase of homicides by 17 percent and victims shot up by 19 percent when compared to 2020. The violent situations in these five OIS incidents are unique given the number of hostage situations. Four of the five incidents involved hostage situations where officers were thrust into evolving incidents where a hostage was in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury. The other factor is the number of suspects experiencing a mental illness. As of October 25, 2021, there have been 30 OIS incidents of which 10 (33 percent) have involved a suspect with a perceived mental illness; a figure that exceeds the total percentages for 2017 (32 percent) and 2020 (21 percent). The number of persons who are in and out of treatment for mental illnesses and who are oftentimes released from institutions without an adequate support system in place upon release has exacerbated the high levels of violence we are experiencing in the City. Lastly, 10 of the 30 OIS incidents for 2021 involved suspects armed with an edged weapon compared to the totals for 2020 and 2017 where we noted 7 and 8 suspects armed with edged weapons respectively.
On October 1, 2021, around 7:00 p.m., Newton Patrol Division officers responded to a radio call of a female with a mental illness. Officers at the scene learned a woman was inside the residence holding her 10-year-old son at knifepoint. The woman refused to come out of the residence and Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) personnel were requested. While awaiting the arrival of SWAT officers, the woman began stabbing her son, resulting in an officer-involved shooting. The woman was struck by gunfire and transported to a local hospital for medical treatment. The 10-year-old sustained multiple stab wounds during the incident. He was transported to a local hospital and is in stable condition.
On October 2, 2021, around 11:00 a.m., a woman was walking in the area of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue. The suspect approached the woman and stabbed her in the stomach. Friends of the woman flagged down an LAPD sergeant who requested additional units. The suspect was given directions, but he did not comply. While armed with the knife, he moved toward the officers, resulting in an officer-involved shooting and the use of a beanbag shotgun. The suspect was struck by both gunfire and the beanbag round. Both the woman who had been stabbed, and the suspect were transported to local hospitals for medical treatment.
On October 6, 2021, around 10:45 p.m., Central Patrol Division and Central Traffic Division officers responded to a female armed with a firearm in the area of Arcadia Street and Spring Street. Officers spoke with a community member who told them the suspect was inside a tent in a homeless encampment. While officers were trying to communicate with the suspect, she fired multiple shots at officers over the course of several minutes. Around 11:45 p.m., while waiting for additional resources, including Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) personnel, the suspect came out of a tent holding a hostage. While outside of the tent with the hostage, an officer-involved shooting occurred. The suspect was struck by gunfire and fell to the ground. She was transported to a local hospital for medical treatment. The hostage was not injured.
On October 8, 2021, around 4:10 p.m., LAPD Central Patrol Division began to receive calls regarding a suspect involved in multiple violent crimes. The first incident occurred around 3:45 p.m. at 8th Street and Broadway. The suspect had pointed a handgun at a victim’s head, pressing it against the victim’s face, and pulled the trigger. The handgun did not fire. The suspect proceeded to a business in the 700 block of South Broadway. He shot at a group inside the business and a 14-year-old victim sustained a graze wound to his head. Following the shooting, the suspect attempted to kidnap and carjack a victim; fortunately, he was unable to start the car. The suspect fled on foot to 7th Street and Spring Street, where he pushed a victim off a bicycle and brandished a handgun.
As officers arrived in the area, security guards directed officers to the suspect who fled into an apartment building in the 500 block of South Main Street. Officers established a perimeter and began requesting additional resources including Metropolitan Division, Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) personnel. As personnel were arriving, officers learned the suspect had taken a female hostage and was holding her at gunpoint inside an apartment. The suspect was seen pointing the handgun at the hostage’s head. SWAT personnel forced entry into the apartment and an Officer-Involved Shooting occurred. The suspect was struck by gunfire and pronounced deceased at scene. The handgun he was armed with was recovered by investigators.
On October 13, 2021, around 5:50 a.m., LAPD Pacific Patrol Division officers responded to calls reporting the suspect was threatening a female family member with a knife. As officers approached the apartment where the suspect and the woman were at, they heard a woman yelling in distress. Fearing for the safety of the woman, they forced entry into the apartment. Inside the apartment they saw the suspect armed with a knife, swinging it at the woman; at that time there was an Officer-Involved Shooting. The suspect was struck by gunfire and transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced deceased.
Reverence for human life is the guiding principle in the Department’s use of force policy. De-escalation, the use of alternatives, and utilizing time remain of critical importance. Each incident will be investigated and evaluated separately, based on evidence gathered including statements of witnesses and the involved officers as well as body-worn video. The Department will provide individual critical incident community briefing videos for each instance in the coming weeks as information is gathered. Once the investigations are completed, the Chief of Police will provide his findings and recommendations to the Board of Police Commissioners. The Board will evaluate the evidence to determine whether the officers’ tactics, drawing and exhibiting a weapon and use of deadly force met the high standards expected of all LAPD officers.