Traffic Stop Results in Officer Involved Shooting

February 1, 2003

"Traffic Stop Results in Officer Involved Shooting"

Los Angeles: On Saturday, February 1, 2003, at approximately 1:30 a.m., Metropolitan Division K-9 Officer Gordon Olson, 43 years of age, 19 years with the Department, was driving his black and white police vehicle when he observed a 2001 Nissan with two male occupants fail to stop for a red light at the intersection of 5th Street and Los Angeles Street in the downtown area of Los Angles. Officer Olson continued to follow the vehicle as it accelerated away northbound on Los Angeles Street. When the suspects’ car reached the intersection of Los Angeles Street and 3rd Street, the vehicle stopped for the red light. 3rd Street, in this area, is one way in the westbound direction. The suspects’ vehicle turned right onto 3rd street traveling eastbound against the flow of traffic. Officer Gordon immediately turned on his emergency lights and the suspects’ vehicle pulled over to the right hand curb lane.
At this same time, Central Area Patrol Officer Robert Duke, 35 years of age, 5 ½ years with the Department, was a passenger along with a partner officer, driving westbound in their black and white police vehicle, on 3rd Street approaching the intersection of Los Angeles Street, when he observed the suspects’ vehicle driving towards them in the wrong direction. Duke and his partner observed that Officer Olson had pulled the suspects’ vehicle over and decided to assist him with his traffic stop.
In the meantime, Officer Olson had gotten out of his police car and walked up to the suspects’ vehicle on the driver’s side. Due to the driver suspect’s erratic driving in an area known for heavy narcotics use and trafficking, for his safety, Olson issued several verbal orders for both suspects to raise their hands so that he could see that they were not armed with any weapons. The passenger immediately complied and raised his hands. The driver, however, failed to comply and instead raised then lowered his hands several times as if he was reaching for something. Officer Olson formed the opinion that the driver was attempting to arm himself. In an effort to gain his compliance, Officer Olson attempted to grab the driver and pull him out of the vehicle. At this time, the suspect grabbed the steering wheel with both hands preventing Olson from extricating him from the car.
By this time, Officer Duke and his partner had arrived at the suspects’ vehicle. The driver continued to lower his hands. Olson verbally called out to Duke and his partner that he believed that the driver suspect might be sitting on a gun. The officers then observed the driver reach down between his legs in his crotch area beneath his buttocks. Officer Duke’s partner then yelled out that the driver was going for a gun.
Officer Olson believing that the driver was arming himself with a gun, in fear for his life and that of his fellow officers, fired his service pistol at the driver. Officer Duke, believing that the driver was arming himself with a gun, in fear for his life and that of his partner officers, fired his service pistol at the driver. The driver was struck by the officers’ gunfire and died at scene as a result of his injuries. The passenger suspect got out of the car at the time of the shooting and was not injured. He was detained for questioning.
A preliminary search of the driver suspect and the vehicle did not turn up any weapons. The search did recover a clear plastic baggie containing what appeared to be rock cocaine. The driver suspect had not been identified at this time.
The investigation of this incident is ongoing and is being conducted by the Department’s Critical Incident Investigation Division and Robbery Homicide Division.
For further information, contact Media Relations Section at 213-485-3586.
This press release was prepared by Sergeant John Pasquariello, LAPD Media Relations Section.