LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck recommended Monday that criminal charges be filed against an officer involved in the deadly shooting of a homeless man in Venice - the first time the chief has called for charges in a fatal on-duty shooting.
L.A. police detectives concluded that Brendon Glenn, 29, was on his stomach trying to push himself off the ground when Officer Clifford Proctor stepped back and fired twice, hitting Glenn in the back on May 5, 2015, Beck told the Los Angeles Times.
After reviewing video, witness accounts and other evidence, investigators determined Glenn was not trying to take either Proctor's gun or his partner's weapon, the chief said. Proctor's partner told investigators he did not know why the officer opened fire, according to The Times.
Investigators say Brendon Glenn was unarmed at the time of the shooting. (credit: CBS)
Paramedics transported Glenn to a nearby hospital, where he later died.
According to police, Proctor was responding to a 911 call that a man - who was later determined to be Glenn - was harassing passersby on a block of restaurants and bars.
After reviewing surveillance video of the incident, Beck said it "shows a series of events" that aligns with the officer's report of what happened, including the "physical altercation" that set off the shooting.
However, attorneys said the video did not reveal where Glenn's hands were during the altercation.
In response to the Beck's recommendation, Mayor Eric Garcetti issued a written statement that reads in part: "No one is above the law and whenever use-of-force crosses the line it is our obligation to make sure that principle is upheld. Our officers perform heroic work every day, work that often goes unheard, but accountability is fundamental to the trust that needs to exist between our officers and the people they serve. Maintaining that trust is essential to keeping our neighborhoods safe."
Southland civil rights activist Earl Ofari Hutchinson called on Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey to file charges and fast-track the prosecution. He said Beck's decision to recommend charges "is a sterling act that recognizes the seriousness of the unwarranted use of deadly force by officers."
"But a recommendation by the chief for prosecution without a fast and vigorous prosecution by Lacey will be a hollow victory," Hutchinson said. "Any delay in the prosecution will send the terrible message that there is a double-standard in how prosecutors handle criminal charges against police officers and ordinary criminal charges against ordinary citizens."
CBS2/KCAL9 Legal Analyst Steve Meister said it would be highly unlikely that any charges be filed against Proctor. Prosecuting officers is so infrequent because jurors are required to put themselves in the officer's shoes, he explained. Los Angeles County prosecutors have not charged a law enforcement officer for an on-duty shooting in 15 years.
"Jurors see perhaps for the first time the inevitable sometimes deadly confrontation between police and members of the public, and they look at it from a whole new perspective," Meister said.
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