Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas | Ensuring Fair and Thorough Investigations of Deputy Shootings

From the office of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas

PHOTO: ridley-thomas.lacounty.gov | Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas

MEDIA RELEASE:

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas filed two separate motions aimed at ensuring fair and thorough investigations into separate shootings by Sheriff’s deputies.

“During a recent spate of shootings involving deputies, the Sheriff’s Department has shown a disturbing trend of shrouding use-of-force incidents in secrecy,” he said. “Community safety relies upon public confidence in all public safety agencies, including the Sheriff’s Department. Without transparency and accountability, public confidence cannot be maintained.”

In his motion, “Ensuring A Transparent And Reliable Investigation Into The Shooting Death of Fred Williams,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas urged the Sheriff to provide the Inspector General immediate and full access to all evidence related to the fatal Oct. 16th shooting of a 25-year-old man in unincorporated Willowbrook, including, but not limited to, body-worn camera footage.

The Sheriff’s Department has said the deputy drew and fired his weapon only after Mr. Williams brandished a gun towards him. Publicly available, unofficial footage of the incident shows Mr. Williams running behind a home and the involved Deputy can be seen chasing after him. After Mr. Williams ran around a corner of the home and out of camera-range on the unofficial footage, the Deputy stopped, aimed and fired several shots.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas’ motion also instructs County Counsel, Inspector General, the Civilian Oversight Commission, and the Chief Medical Examiner Coroner to report back on alternative plans to ensure an independent investigation in this case, including potentially involving the Attorney General to oversee the investigation. It also instructs the Chief Medical Examiner-Coroner to look into conducting an inquest which would use the Chief Medical Examiner-Coroner’s subpoena power to preserve a reliable record of the investigative steps taken by the Sheriff’s Department, even if the Sheriff’s Department requires that those documents be kept secret.

A separate motion, authored by both Supervisors Ridley-Thomas and Janice Hahn, instructed the Inspector General to take all actions necessary to look into October 6th shooting of a psychiatric patient at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Campus.

“The bottom line is that hospitals are places of care. What I’ve heard over the last few weeks from doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals is that the constant presence of armed officers makes it very hard to create this type of calm and supportive environment,” said Supervisor Hahn.

This was the second use of lethal force at that medical campus within the past five years. In 2015, a patient with mental illness was fatally shot by a Los Angeles police officer inside the Harbor-UCLA emergency room.

The motion also directed the County’s Acting CEO and Health Services Director to advise on the best practices for providing security on medical campuses and inquired about the Board’s authority to impose restrictions and/or training requirements armed law enforcement officers assigned to medical campuses.