Two Los Angeles police officers involved in the fatal shooting of a man with a toy gun who was also run over by their squad car were cleared of any wrongdoing Tuesday by the city’s Board of Police Commissioners.
The civilian body that oversees the Los Angeles Police Department agreed unanimously with the findings of Chief Charlie Beck that the shooting was justified and within department policy.
Eric Rivera, 20, of Lomita died on June 6, 2017, in Wilmington. The two officers who confronted Rivera said he was holding what turned out to be a toy gun, and that the officer driving the squad car jumped out of it before the shooting and forgot to put it in park, which caused it to roll forward and onto Rivera after he was shot, Beck wrote in his report on the incident.
Rivera’s family filed a federal lawsuit against the city last year. Their attorney, Arnolda Casillas, said Officers Arturo Urrita and Daniel Ramirez should be charged with a crime.
Rivera was shot at a total of 11 times in two spurts, according to Beck’s report, although it was not clear in the report if one or both of the officers shot him because their names were redacted from the version that was released to the public.
According to the report, the department received a report of a man with a gun, and the officers encountered Rivera as he was walking on the street along Wilmington Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway around 8:50 p.m.
Beck wrote in his report the officers saw what they thought was a gun in Rivera’s hand and got out of the vehicle so fast that the officer driving forgot to put it in park.
Although Beck said the shooting was justified, he did make a minor note of the officer’s failure to put the car in park, and wrote that the officer “is reminded that not placing the vehicle in park can place officers and the community in danger.”
Casillas said last year that the shooting was unjustified because the officers told Rivera to get down on the ground as the car was rolling forward, and that he likely made a move the officers perceived as non-compliant when all he was trying to do was get out of the way of the car. He also said the first shot hit Rivera in the back, indicating he was not threatening the officers.
“What happened to him was completely wrong. He didn’t deserve to die the way he did,” said Valerie Rivera, Eric’s mother. “I want justice for my son. They need to answer for what they did.”
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: