The Police Commission, the civilian panel that oversees the Los Angeles Police Department, determined this week that a dozen police officers violated department policy when, while aboard a helicopter, they shot and killed a man who had barricaded himself inside a home in Sunland and was firing at officers.
The determination reached Tuesday put the Police Commision at odds with police Chief Charlie Beck, who had determined that all aspects of the May 8, 2017, shooting in were consistent with LAPD policy.
The suspect, 29-year-old Anthony Soderberg, was killed.
In a report to the five-member commission, Beck said that Soderberg’s actions “presented an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury,” and that the use of lethal force would be “objectively” reasonable. But the police commission voted 3 to 1 to find the officers out of policy in the fatal shooting. A 13th officer was found to have acted within policy.
One officer fired as many as 14 rounds and at least 40 rounds were fired during the standoff and multiple rounds were fired from a distance of 500 feet or more.
It’s unclear why the commission found the 12 officers out of policy, the Los Angeles Times reported. President Steve Soboroff declined to comment on the decision, and other commissioners did not respond to a request for comment. The office of the inspector general is expected to issue a report on the shooting shortly.
The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents rank-and-file officers, said in a statement that it is “extremely disappointed with the commission’s decision” and that the officers involved should be getting a “thank you” instead of a rebuke.
About 9 a.m. on the day of the shooting, a woman woke to find a man in her kitchen. She escaped through a bedroom window and called police, The Times reporded.
Officers responding to the 11300 block of Alethea Drive were told there was a handgun, a rifle, a shotgun and ammunition inside the home, according to Beck’s review of the incident. Responding SWAT officers determined that since Soderberg was in an “elevated position at the end of a cul-de-sac in hilly terrain,” he posed more of a threat.
A lieutenant contacted a captain and asked permission to bring in a helicopter. The request was relayed up the chain of command and approved, with a commander asserting that the helicopter with armed officers was the “safest means” to contain Soderberg if he began shooting.
The tactic of opening fire from the air has been considered only four times since 2012, police previously told The Times. The May 8 shooting marked the first time an LAPD officer used it.
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