The Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners cleared two officers who fired their guns at suspects — missing their targets both times — in separate shootings that occurred in April 2016, documents released Wednesday reveal.
The board voted 5-0 on Tuesday in both cases and agreed with the assessment of Chief Charlie Beck that the officers acted reasonably and within department policy when they fired their weapons at suspects.
According to Beck’s report on the first incident, Officer Irma Castillo and her partner were in plainclothes and driving an unmarked police vehicle when they stopped at a light near the corner of Slauson Avenue and Figueroa Street on April 29.
Castillo said she and her partner saw five men involved in a fight near a sidewalk and a suspect, later identified as Thomas Gray, standing on the passenger side of a vehicle while aiming a gun.
After parking their car, Castillo said she heard to or three shots fired and saw a victim reacting as if he had been hit by gunfire. Castillo said she then fired two shots at Gray, which the report estimated to be from a distance of 108 feet, but missed him.
Gray first fled the scene in a car, but then exited and fled on foot once a police helicopter pursued him, according to the report. He was arrested in the area, as was another suspect in the shooting, Dwayne Seymore, and both have been charged with attempted murder, as the victim was struck in the leg and wounded.
The second shooting occurred on April 20 near Occidental Boulevard and Temple Street.
According to the report, Officer Daniel Rodriguez and his two partners were in uniform and driving a marked police cruiser when they observed a suspect, Alexis Ventura, riding a bicycle in the dark without a headlamp.
Ventura sped up and turned down an alley when he realized the officers were following him and did not obey their commands to stop, the report said.
After Ventura ditched his bike and ducked through a hole in a fence, Rodriguez peeked through the hole and said he saw Ventura reach for his waistband and draw what he believed to be a firearm.
Rodriguez said he drew his gun and fired once, missing Ventura, who was later apprehended in the area. Ventura did not have a weapon on him, and no weapon was recovered, but he did test positive for having gunshot residue on his hand, although none of the officers reported that he fired a weapon at them, according to Beck’s report.
— City News S
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