Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck recommended criminal charges against an officer who killed an unarmed homeless man in Venice — the first time the chief has called for charges in a fatal on-duty shooting — and civil rights leaders urged prosecutors Monday to fast-track the case.
LAPD investigators concluded that Brendon Glenn was on his stomach, attempting to push himself off the ground, when Officer Clifford Proctor stepped back and fired twice, hitting the 29-year-old in the back, Beck told the Los Angeles Times.
After reviewing video, witness accounts and other evidence, investigators determined Glenn was not trying to take either Proctor’s gun or his partner’s weapon, the chief said. Proctor’s partner told investigators he did not know why the officer opened fire, according to The Times.
The May 5 shooting came amid a strident national conversation about police and the use of force, particularly against black men. Glenn was black, as is Proctor.
Beck said he made his recommendation to Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey last month when the LAPD handed over its investigation to prosecutors. He said he has suggested that prosecutors file charges against officers in other cases but never for a fatal on-duty shooting.
It is now up to Lacey and her office to decide whether to bring a case against Proctor. Los Angeles County prosecutors have not charged a law enforcement officer for an on-duty shooting in 15 years, according to The Times.
Southland civil rights activist Earl Ofari Hutchinson called on Lacey to file charges and fast-track the prosecution. He said Beck’s decision to recommend charges “is a sterling act that recognizes the seriousness of the unwarranted use of deadly force by officers.”
“But a recommendation by the chief for prosecution without a fast and vigorous prosecution by Lacey will be a hollow victory,” Hutchinson said. “Any delay in the prosecution will send the terrible message that there is a double-standard in how prosecutors handle criminal charges against police officers and ordinary criminal charges against ordinary citizens.”
Proctor’s attorney, Larry Hanna, defended his client’s decision to shoot, saying he saw Glenn going for his partner’s gun — even if his partner may not have realized it, The Times reported. Although a security camera captured the events leading up to the shooting, Hanna said, both of Glenn’s hands could not be seen for the entirety of the recording.
Hanna accused LAPD brass of making a “political decision,” saying the chief spoke too early about the case last year when he publicly questioned Proctor’s actions just hours after the shooting. But the attorney said he believes Lacey’s office will “make the right decision” and decline to file charges against the officer.
Mayor Eric Garcetti said he is urging prosecutors to review the case “with the utmost gravity.”
“No one is above the law, and whenever use-of-force crosses the line, it is our obligation to make sure that principle is upheld,” Garcetti said. “Our officers perform heroic work every day, work that often goes unheralded. But accountability is fundamental to the trust that needs to exist between our officers and the people they serve — and maintaining that trust is essential to keeping our neighborhoods safe.”
—City News Service
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