LOS ANGELES (CN) – For the second time in less than a month, the Los Angeles Police Department released body camera footage showing officers shooting at a violent suspect and killing an innocent bystander in the crossfire.
Bodycam video released Tuesday shows LAPD officers shooting at a knife-wielding man who took a woman hostage after a beanbag rifle failed to yield results. Both the woman who was taken hostage, 49-year-old Elizabeth Tollison and the suspect, 32-year-old Guillermo Perez, were killed in the incident last month.
Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore expressed grief for the victim killed and the officers involved in the shooting.
The press conference took place a week after Moore shared bodycam footage from another police shootout with a suspect at a Trader Joe’s grocery store in LA’s Silver Lake neighborhood. In that incident, 27-year-old Trader Joe’s manager Melyda Corado was struck by an officer’s bullet following a high-speed pursuit with Gene Atkins, 28, who is suspected of shooting his grandmother and girlfriend in a domestic violence incident.
Moore said in both incidents, officers made split-second decisions during a tense situation that unfolded quickly.
“It’s been 13 years since an officer’s gunfire has killed an innocent bystander or hostage in this department,” Moore said at a Tuesday morning press conference. “In the last six weeks it’s happened twice.”
On Tuesday, the video released from the LAPD shows officers responding to a homeless outreach center in Van Nuys, where Perez paced in a courtyard with a large serrated knife. In the video, several officers with guns drawn commanded Perez to drop the knife while another officer shot at him with beanbag rounds. Perez held a folding chair and appeared to have shielded himself from the beanbags.
As officers approached Perez grabbed Tollison and held the knife to her throat and made a sawing motion in the video. Officers shot 18 rounds at Perez and Tollison, said Moore. Both fell to the ground and died, according to the LAPD.
Police commissioners will evaluate the results of an ongoing investigation from the incident.
The footage played for the media includes a police spokesman and officer providing information on the tactics used in the field and details they have about the suspect, who was suspected of attacking his girlfriend with the knife before officers arrived.
While officers used the beanbag rounds, Moore said those nonlethal tools are becoming less effective in the field.
In evaluating officer-involved shooting investigations from 2017, Moore said there has been an increase in officer-involved shootings where a suspect was armed with something other than a gun and the number of rounds fired in those incidents has increased after a decline in previous years.
There will be new training to utilize teamwork in the field, which might include teaching some officers not to reach for their guns, and new nonlethal equipment will be deployed in the field.
But Moore stressed that officers will use their guns when necessary.
“Sometimes there is no other option,” said Moore. “Sometimes deadly force is the only option.”
Moore did not release the names of the officers involved in the shooting.