A police cruiser. Photo by John Schreiber.
A police cruiser. Photo by John Schreiber.

The family of a 35-year-old man who was fatally shot by a Los Angeles police officer following a pursuit that ended in Burbank called Wednesday for the District Attorney’s Office to file criminal charges against the officer.

The call by the family of Sergio Navas came one day after the Los Angeles Police Commission found the officer violated department policy in the March 5, 2015, shooting.

The officers chased Navas from Toluca Lake to Burbank after he allegedly fled a traffic stop, according to a report submitted to the Police Commission by LAPD Chief Charlie Beck.

As the pursuit approached a dead-end street, causing Navas to abruptly top his car, the driver of the pursuing patrol car had to swerve to avoid hitting the vehicle, and the cruiser wound up parked next to Navas’ vehicle.

The officer on the passenger side was unable to get out of the car because the door of the vehicle driven by Navas was blocking the way. The officer, who said he could not see Navas’ hands and believed he was going to ambush him, opened fire on Navas, according to the report.

The officers had initially been pursuing Navas because he was seen driving faster than 80 mph in a 35 mph zone. They also suspected the vehicle had been stolen.

Attorney Luis Carrillo said that despite Navas’ death bringing “tremendous sadness” to his family, they gained “some measure of comfort that the Police Commission found the shooting out of policy.”

Carrillo said that now, “at the very least there should be manslaughter charges filed against the officer,” who he identified as Officer Brian Van Gordon.

“Since the beginning we have said the shooting was unjustified, even our own investigator confirmed that the shooting put other residents in the block at risk,” he said. “And certainly this unjustified shooting caused the loss of the life of a father of three kids, the loss of a son and the loss of a husband.”

Carrillo said he does not have access to the police report detailing the incident, but he believes Navas had not been moving in an aggressive manner toward the officers.

Christel Emmet, the mother of Navas’ three children, said at news conference this morning that she was “amazed” by the commission’s decision.

She also said that “we want justice. First and foremost, it’s justice.”

“We also want a precedent to be set where their training — they’re improved on their training. And Officer Van Gordon needs to pay for what he’s done,” she said.

Carrillo is representing the family in a lawsuit against the city alleging civil rights violations, wrongful death and negligence.

–City News Service

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