No criminal charges against Los Angeles police for fatal shooting of man holding phone

A Los Angeles police officer will not face criminal prosecution for the fatal shooting of a man holding what turned out to be a phone, state investigators determined.

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The report released Feb. 8 by the California attorney general’s office examines the confrontation on July 26, 2021, between police and Samuel Soto. A state law requires such an investigation of any shooting in which a law enforcement officer kills a person who is not carrying a deadly weapon.

The report’s description of the encounter with the 53-year-old Soto describes a chaotic scene in which communication among the four officers and Soto may have been hindered by the noise of a police helicopter overhead.

The first two officers — Eduardo Martinez and Ruben Mejia — arrived at 8:49 p.m. at a residential/commercial block in the Pico-Union neighborhood, west of downtown Los Angeles, responding to a 911 call from a Texas police officer who was on a family vacation. The Texan said he had pulled over to offer help to a man who was bleeding from the neck, and then noticed the man was holding a knife.

When Martinez and Mejia arrived, the Texas man was pointing a handgun at Soto — who then turned and ran toward the LAPD officers with a knife in his hand, the report said. Martinez fired two shots that missed and a third that struck Soto in the abdomen.

Soto fell to the street and dropped the knife, which Martinez kicked out of his reach, but he was on his feet when officers David Voci and Christian Garton arrived less than a minute after the shooting in response to a call for backup.

On video from their body-worn cameras, “Officer Mejia can be heard stating, ‘He doesn’t have the knife.’ Officer Voci did not acknowledge or react to Officer Mejia’s statement,” the report says.

Both Mejia and Garton later mentioned the noise from a police …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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