LOS ANGELES (CN) – Deadly force was not justified in the shooting of an unarmed homeless man by a Los Angeles Police Department officer, the Police Commission concluded Tuesday after a nearly year-long investigation of the killing.
LAPD officer Clifford Proctor is accused of shooting Brendon Glenn in the back in May 2015. Police Chief Charlie Beck called for criminal charges against Proctor – the first time the chief has recommended prosecution of a fatal on-duty police shooting.
Glenn was shot and killed outside a Townhouse Bar in Venice on the night of May 5, 2015, after the 29-year-old came into contact with Proctor and his partner Jonathan Kawahara after they received a call that Glenn was harassing patrons.
In a letter dated March 2 and released on Tuesday, Chief Charlie Beck detailed the officers’ encounter with Glenn, based on investigators’ reports and video from body-worn video cameras and Townhouse Bar surveillance video.
The two officers’ names are redacted throughout the report.
Proctor reported that he believed that Glenn was going for his partner’s holster firearm – a claim that his partner and video evidence contradicted, Beck’s letter states.
“‘(H)is left hand was on my partner’s holster, so I was trying to grab the suspect,” the report says Proctor told investigators. “Everything was happening so fast and everybody’s hands were flailing around.'”
But Beck said a review of the Townhouse surveillance video revealed that “at no time during the struggle can Glenn’s hand be observed on or near any portion of Officer [Kawahara’s] holster.”
Beck said a use-of-force review board had concluded that another officer in similar circumstances “would not reasonably believe there was a substantial risk that the situation may escalate to the point where deadly force may be justified.”
The chief said he concurred. The police commission on Tuesday agreed with Beck’s conclusion that Proctor violated department policy.
Beck noted that Proctor had fired his weapon while his Kawahara was in his line of fire, “a substantial deviation, without justification, from approved department tactical training.”
Elsewhere in the letter Beck said the two officers had failed to talk through tactics after they received a call describing an unarmed male black transient with a Labrador-pitbull dog, and did not wait for the additional unit to arrive “which would have afforded them a greater tactical advantage.”
The LAPD’s Force Investigation Division surmised that both officers were wearing body-worn cameras without the approval of their commanding officers.
One of the officers was recorded yelling at Glenn: “Don’t bring your fucking dog here. Don’t come over here with your dog. I will shoot your dog.”
The officer had told investigators that he wanted the intoxicated suspect to obey his orders.
But Beck said the language “likely escalated the situation.”
“In an effort to bring further awareness in regards to interacting with members of the public who may be under the influence of a controlled substance or alcohol, officers should consider these factors when determining the best tactical response,” Beck wrote.
The city rejected the family’s claim for damages, Glenn’s mother noted in a lawsuit filed against the city in February.
Following Beck’s recommendation, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said she was reviewing the case.
“As the county’s top prosecutor, it is my ethical obligation to remain impartial until a thorough and independent investigation is completed by my office,” Lacey said in January. “Decisions on whether or not to file criminal charges will be based solely on the facts and the law – not on emotion, anger or external pressure.”
Lacey’s spokeswoman Jane Robison said Tuesday that the case remains under review.
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