LAPD patch. Photo by MyNewsLA.com

A police officer who shot at an unarmed suspect but said the man made a gesture like he was reaching for a gun was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners and Chief Charlie Beck, according to documents released Thursday.

The board voted 4-1 on Tuesday in agreement with Beck, who said the shooting was within department policy.

According to Beck’s report on the incident and a news release from the LAPD, Officer Saul Lopez and his partner witnessed a group of men drinking in public on a sidewalk in front of an apartment building in the 4000 block of S. Wall Street on June 26 of last year around 7 p.m.

When the officers stopped their vehicle to investigate, the suspect, Michael Gomez, walked away while appearing to hold his waistband, Beck wrote.

At least one of the officers reported seeing a metallic object in the suspect’s pocket, but the officers’ names are redacted from Beck’s report so it is not clear which one made the claim.

After Gomez failed to respond to commands to stop, Lopez reported that Gomez swung around and made a motion like he was pointing something, the report said. At that point Lopez said he fired one shot, although it missed Gomez, who fell to the ground in a fetal position.

No weapon was found on Gomez, according to the report.

–City News Service

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