Commission says cop wrong to shoot teen

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card The decision stood in sharp contrast to a recommendation by Bratton that the panel find the shooting within policy. It also contrasted with the finding last month by the District Attorney’s Office that there was insufficient evidence to file criminal charges against Garcia. In a choreographed display of unity after the vote in executive session, the commission and LAPD brass held a news conference in which Mack praised the majority of LAPD officers. Bratton said he disagreed with the decision, but accepted it. “Within their power and within their purview, the Police Commission made a decision,” Bratton said. “It is opposite of the recommendation I made to them, but their decision is the final one when it comes to policy.” Mack said more information will be forthcoming in several days when the civilian panel releases a formal summary of its review. “This is not the commission conducting a power play with the chief,” said Mack. “We recognize that reasonable people can disagree, even looking at the same basic information.” Bucking LAPD Chief William Bratton, the Police Commission determined Tuesday that an officer violated department policy when he fatally shot a 13-year-old who rammed a stolen vehicle into a patrol car last year. The commission offered no specifics for its 4-1 vote, which found that Officer Steven Garcia violated policy when he fired 10 shots at Devin Brown, killing the African-American youth at the end of a car case. “Regarding use of force, firing of the weapon, the Police Commission found that the use of force was out of policy,” commission President John Mack. The panel also unanimously recommended that six other officers involved receive additional training, while finding their tactics within policy. The next step in the process is for Garcia to appear before a public LAPD panel known as a Board of Rights, which will determine whether his violation constituted misconduct. Based on that rule, Bratton would make a disciplinary decision, which could range from an admonishment to firing. “Every one of the commissioners spent a lot of time looking at the record, looking at the evidence and just completely reviewing all aspects of it and I think they went about it with a lot of integrity and no hidden agendas,” said Commissioner Alan Skobin, who cast the dissenting vote. “Normally, the commission will see things eye to eye and in this one case we saw things differently and we each voted our conscience.” Reaction among activists was mixed. Leaders of the Community Call to Action and Accountability, a South Los Angeles group formed in the wake of the shooting, said they will await a disciplinary decision. Najee Ali of Project Islamic Hope echoed the sentiment while expressing optimism about the panel’s decision. “They’re showing a streak of true independence and it seems that under (Mayor Antonio) Villaraigosa’s watch that police reform may be finally moving in the right direction,” he said. But Bob Baker, head of the union that represents rank-and-file officers, accused the commission of bowing to pressure from such activists. “Trying to save his own life, Officer Garcia did what he was trained to do, and he now must suffer lifelong consequences,” Baker said in a statement. Brown led police on a chase through South Los Angeles in the early morning hours of Feb. 6. It ended when he ran the stolen Toyota Camry he was driving up onto a sidewalk at 83rd Street and Western Avenue. The Camry then backed into a police car and Garcia, who was outside the vehicle, fired 10 rounds, six of which struck Brown. The LAPD subsequently changed its rules for when officers should fire at vehicles, but Mack said the commission’s decision was based on the policy in place at the time. Attorney Brian Dunn, who is representing Brown’s relatives in their wrongful-death suit against the city, said family members were encouraged by the panel’s findings. “I’ve been telling them since the moment I started working on the case that it was a bad shooting but this was the first time they’ve actually heard it from someone else,” he said. Villaraigosa said he was satisfied that his appointees made their decision after carefully considering the facts and that Bratton has his full support. “We are on exactly the same page when it comes to reform of the Los Angeles Police Department,” he said. Staff writer Rick Orlov contributed to this story. Dan Laidman, (213) 978-0390 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more