A California Highway Patrol officer acted lawfully in fatally shooting a man who held three workers at the Ronald Reagan State Building in downtown Los Angeles hostage about 17 months ago while holding what appeared to be a firearm concealed in a paper bag, according to a document released Thursday by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Prosecutors concluded that CHP Officer Adrian Gutierrez “acted lawfully in self-defense and in defense of others” in shooting Timothy Elam, who had informed a building security guard that he had a gun while pointing to a bulge in his waistband on Sept. 6, 2017.
The size and shape of the bag that Elam was carrying, along with his stance and his statement to a security guard that he would shoot him, were “consistent with Elam having a firearm,” prosecutors found. “Under these circumstances, Gutierrez’ belief that Elam was armed and posed an imminent threat to himself and others in the lobby was reasonable.”
A subsequent search of the bag that Elam had been carrying revealed two crushed energy drink cans but no firearm, according to the report.
Elam sustained one gunshot wound each to the head and shoulder, and a toxicology screen subsequently showed that he had methamphetamine, amphetamine, MDMA and marijuana in his system at the time of his death, according to the document.
The District Attorney’s Office also declined to file charges involving the deaths of:
— Sinuon Pream, fatally shot Jan. 15, 2017, by Long Beach Police Officers Elieser Domingo and Bradley Muhlenkamp.
The 37-year-old Long Beach woman — who had a history of mental illness and violent offenses and had marijuana and methamphetamine in her bloodstream — was shot after she refused to drop a knife and moved toward the officers, according to a report on the shooting. Police had been called to the scene after Pream fought with a female customer at a Jack in the Box fast-food restaurant, threatened bystanders and brandished the knife, according to the document.
“The officers’ attempt to use less lethal means to take Pream into custody was ineffective and Pream continued to ignore the officers’ commands to drop the knife. When she raised the knife over her head in a stabbing position and advanced on the officers, they were in reasonable fear for their lives and lawfully discharged their service weapons at Pream,” according to the report from the District Attorney’s Office.
— Efrain Herrera Jr., who was shot Jan. 17, 2016, by Los Angeles Police officers Raul Gonzalez and Adrian Cruz in North Hills, as they responded to a call of a man standing outside with a knife in his hand.
Herrera was armed with a knife when he walked toward the officers, ignored the officers’ orders to drop the knife and quickly moved toward Cruz, who fired one round at Herrera while Gonzalez deployed a stun gun, according to the document.
Herrera tried to remove the stun gun prongs, sat up despite repeated orders by the officers to stay on the ground, grabbed the knife and crouched into a charging stance at Cruz, with Gonzalez subsequently firing a single round, the report found.
An autopsy subsequently found the cause of death to be a gunshot wound to the chest, with another gunshot wound and methamphetamine toxicity listed as contributing factors, according to the document.
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