LOS ANGELES (CN) — Amid demonstrations, the Los Angeles Police Department Board of Police Commissioners found Tuesday that a police officer’s fatal shooting of a black woman did not violate the use-of-deadly-force policy.
Redel Jones was shot by police on Aug. 12, 2015, in an alley in the Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw area of the city. She died from multiple gunshot wounds, according to the LA County coroner.
Scores of Black Lives Matter protesters gathered at LAPD headquarters in downtown Los Angeles to await a decision that the police board made in a closed-door session, with tensions high after the recent police shootings of two black men and the murders of five officers in Dallas.
After the hearings, they stood outside headquarters chanting “Hands up! Don’t Shoot!” A line of women raised their fists in a show of solidarity. Demonstrators held up signs reading “Stop Killing Us,” “Demilitarize the Police” and “No Justice, No Peace.”
Aaron Gaines, 26, of Monterey Park, said he had come out to support Black Lives Matter and had marched with hundreds of others at another protest this past weekend in Inglewood in response to police shootings of Philando Castile in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
“We’ve been dealing with this for so long,” Gaines said. “Hopefully this brings awareness to everybody, so we can stand together.”
Skid Row community activist General Jeff, 51, said the police commission’s findings were not a surprise.
“It’s exactly what we thought it was going to be. It’s just her and the officer that murdered her. There’s a one-sided story,” Jeff said.
Protesters later moved on to City Hall as a police helicopter hovered and hissed in the sky. A small group of helmet- and baton-clad officers stood in the sun just feet away from the protesters, who were steeped in the shadows cast by City Hall.
Jones’ husband Marcus Vaugh spoke to the protesters behind a banner and said that Jones was one of the “best” people he knew.
“You can’t look injustice in the eyes and expect justice,” he told the crowd.
One protester yelled: “Say her name!” and was met with a chorus of “Redel Jones!”
Vaugh, who declined to comment further, has filed a lawsuit against the city. Jones’ son, daughter, and father Harold Horne also named as plaintiffs. Vaugh’s attorney Dale Galipo was not immediately available for comment by phone on Tuesday.
The LAPD said that Jones was shot after officers responded to a suspected robbery on Santa Rosalia Drive, and that the suspect was described as wearing a purple scarf and wielding a large knife.
Jones allegedly ran as the officers got out of their squad car and chased her into the alley. After the officers saw that she was carrying a knife they ordered her to drop it. Jones continued to run but then stopped and turned toward the officers, walking toward them with the knife, the report said.
The LAPD said that one of the officers used a Taser on Jones and that she was shot. She died at the scene, and no officers were harmed during the shooting, the report said.
An investigation into the shooting was reviewed by Chief of Police Charlie Beck, the Office of the Inspector General and Board of Police Commissioners, which found that the shooting was within the department’s use-of-force policy.
After the decision was handed down, James Lafferty of the National Lawyers Guild said outside police headquarters that the LAPD needs to change its policy to reduce civilian deaths in the city, and that “9 times out of 10” the board finds that use of force was justified.
“They’re not supposed to be judge, jury, and executioner,” Lafferty said.
In an abridged summary, the panel of the police commissioners found that the officer, called “Officer G” in the report, had reason to believe that Jones intended to harm him.
Jones had “raised her knife to head level and pointed the blade” in the officer’s direction. He had fired five rounds to “stop the threat,” the report said.
“Based on the totality of the circumstances, the BOPC [Board of Police Commissioners] determined that an officer with similar training and experience as Officer G would reasonably believe that the subject’s actions while armed with a knife presented an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury and, therefore, the use of lethal force would be objectively reasonable,” the report stated.
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