A Los Angeles Police Department officer was justified in fatally shooting a robbery suspect who allegedly tried to grab another officer’s gun inside a Boyle Heights hospital, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has determined.
LAPD Officer Mario Morales “acted in lawful self-defense and defense of others” when he shot Omar Magana on June 9, 2018, in a CT scan room at White Memorial Medical Center, where the 34-year-old man had been taken after what officers believed was a feigned seizure following his arrest, according to the document from the District Attorney’s Office.
Prosecutors noted that Officer Ruben Zaragoza yelled several times to his partner, “He has my gun!” or “He’s grabbing my gun!” and that DNA testing on Zaragoza’s service weapon “confirmed the presence of DNA consistent with Magana’s profile.”
The 34-year-old man — whom prosecutors wrote “was determined to escape” — ultimately “elected on a most dangerous course by attempting to disarm an officer,” according to the 11-page report on the shooting.
“Given the life or death struggle thrust upon them, officers were unable to employ other means to subdue Magana,” prosecutors wrote. “The officers feared that had Magana succeeded in gaining control over Zaragoza’s firearm he would have used the weapon against one or both officers. Thereafter, Magana would have posed a threat to any person obstructing his path, including hospital staff or other officers responding to the scene. Magana was shot under circumstances where both officers clearly had probable cause to believe that Magana posed a threat of serious physical harm to them and to others.”
Magana — who was shot three times — died later that morning after being taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center.
The District Attorney’s Office also determined that no charges should be filed in connection with the shootings of three other men who were wounded by Los Angeles police in Mar Vista, East Hollywood and Panorama City between August 2016 and April 2017, and an officer-involved shooting by Glendora police officer that left a man wounded in October 2016.
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