The Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners Tuesday found that two of three officers involved in a June 2018 shooting that resulted in the death of a hostage acted out of compliance with the department’s policies.
The board’s vote was unanimous in agreement with Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore, who issued a report on the incident.
Three LAPD officers were involved in the fatal shooting of Guillermo Perez, 32, and Elizabeth Tollison, 49, in Van Nuys.
Police responded to a 911 call about a man stabbing his ex-girlfriend and threatening a woman at a homeless outreach center in the 6400 block of Tyrone Avenue. According to body camera footage released by police and Moore’s report, Perez engaged in a standoff with officers as he held a knife to Tollison’s throat and refused orders to drop the weapon.
According to Moore, at least one officer fired a beanbag shotgun during the standoff, but it failed to stop Perez. Officers fired their handguns a combined 18 times as Perez pressed the knife into Tollison’s neck. The gunfire killed Perez. Tollison was shot in the head and shoulder and died days later in a hospital.
The officers involved in the shooting were previously identified by the LAPD as Eugene Damiano, Andrew Trock and Cristian Bonilla, but Moore’s report redacted all the names and it was not clear which officers were found to have used their firearms out of policy. Moore stated that the officers were not in the proper positioning at the time of the shooting.
Moore’s report found that all three of the officers did not formulate a clear plan or did not take proper cover, per the department’s policies. Moore also characterized the shooting as a “rapidly unfolding” tactical situation in which the officers had to make immediate decisions.
One officer quoted in Moore’s report said that because the beanbag shotgun was not effective, lethal force was necessary, and Moore said he concurred with the decision.
Moore is the authority on how disciplinary actions are handled within the department.
Tollison’s husband and adult children have sued the LAPD for wrongful death.
The lawsuit filed by Tollison’s husband, DeWayne Holt, claims the officers should have known that Perez was “mentally ill, emotionally disturbed and/or undergoing a mental health crisis.”
Moore said after the shooting the department had reviewed and updated the department’s “less-lethal” weapon options and training procedures.