Los Angeles Sheriff's cruiser
A Los Angeles Sheriff's Department cruiser. Courtesy OnScene.TV

An arraignment date is pending for a sheriff’s deputy charged with two felonies stemming from the fatal shooting of a 34-year-old man in East Los Angeles in full view of his relatives, who said the man was in the midst of a mental health crisis at the time, the District Attorney’s Office announced.

Deputy Remin Pineda was charged Thursday with assault with a semiautomatic firearm and assault under color of authority, prosecutors said.

The charges stem from the March 14, 2021, shooting death of David Ordaz Jr., a father of three whose family later filed a federal lawsuit against the sheriff’s department, alleging he was shot in the back while lying on the ground, posing no threat to deputies who responded to the scene.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva said last year he had “grave concerns” about the circumstances of the shooting.

In a statement late Thursday, the sheriff’s department said it submitted the results of it’s investigation to the District Attorney’s Office Justice System Integrity Division for review and relieved Pineda of his peace officer powers.

Now that charges have been filed, ” Mr. Pineda will continue to be relieved of his peace officer powers pending the outcome of the court proceedings,” the statement said.

“Sheriff Villanueva remains committed to transparency and accountability. The Sheriff remains dedicated to promoting actions by employees demonstrating a reverence for life while providing for the safety of the communities we serve. Our condolences to Mr. Ordaz’s family for their loss.”

In announcing the charges, District Attorney George Gascón noted that “unlawful and excessive force at the hands of police erodes the public trust and leads to further divisions between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

“It is imperative that we hold law enforcement accountable when they act unlawfully. This tragic killing of Mr. Ordaz in the presence of his own family has caused tremendous harm that will reverberate for years to come.”

Deputies went to the family’s home in East Los Angeles in response to a call from Ordaz’s relatives, who reported he was suicidal and had a knife, authorities said.

Prosecutors said deputies initially fired bean-bag rounds at Ordaz when he walked toward them while holding the knife. Ordaz allegedly continued to advance on deputies with the knife, drawing gunfire from multiple deputies, authorities said. Prosecutors allege that while Ordaz was on the ground and had dropped the knife, Pineda continued firing his weapon at him.

Video of the shooting was posted on YouTube. The sheriff’s department also later released body-camera footage from the shooting scene.

The family’s federal lawsuit contends deputies used excessive force.

“In fact, the coroners report shows that all of the bullets except two, struck him on the back and on the side and the final bullet as visualized in the video shows a helpless David Ordaz Jr. looking up from the pavement without any weapon, and the killing shot was fired into his chest,” the lawsuit alleges.

Body-worn camera footage indicates at least 10 rounds were fired, including a single shot fired immediately after the flurry of gunfire had stopped and Ordaz was lying face up on the sidewalk, holding his shoulder.

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