LAPD officer-involved shooting under investigation
By Sam Catanzaro
Police say a homeless man fatally shot near the Los Angeles-Culver City border recently wielded a bicycle part, not a gun, as previously believed by the officer.
According to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), the shooting took place at 12:54 p.m. on Saturday, January 11 at a Shell gas station at Sepulveda Boulevard and Venice Boulevard near the Culver City-Los Angeles border. Police had responded to a report of a man with a gun at 12:40 p.m. near Sepulveda Blvd and Tuller Avenue and pursued the suspect to the gas station.
Sergeant I Colin Langsdale, an LAPD field supervisor assigned to Pacific Patrol Division was in the area and responded to the scene, according to an LAPD statement.
“Upon arrival, the supervisor observed the suspect on the south sidewalk of South Venice Boulevard at Tuller Avenue. The supervisor stopped his police vehicle, exited and immediately observed the suspect pointing what he believed to be a handgun at him. A nearby witness also observed the suspect and believed the item in his hand was a gun as well. An OIS [Officer Involved Shooting] occurred and the suspect was struck by gunfire,” reads the statement.
At a Police Commission meeting Tuesday, LAPD Chief Michel Moore identified the man as 31-year-old Victor Valencia. The Los Angeles County coroner’s office has not confirmed the victim’s identity.
The victim was treated at the scene by Los Angeles Fire Department Paramedics and was then transported by Culver City Fire Department Paramedics to the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center where he was pronounced dead, says the LAPD.
A bicycle part was located in the suspect’s hand and was recovered as evidence, not a gun as previously believed by the officer and witnesses.
The LAPD released these details about the shooting on Friday evening, hours after activists held a rally demanding transparency around the shooting.
According to Adam Smith an organizer with White People 4 Black Lives, Valencia was houseless and struggled with mental health issues. The coroner’s office says records indicate that Valencia was not homeless, but activists say that Valencia was recently asked to leave a nearby homeless encampment because of his mental health issues.
“Far too often the LAPD are first point of contact for houseless folks, especially for those struggling with mental health issues,” said Adam Smith, organizer White People 4 Black Lives. “Victor Valencia, a member of our community, may have needed an intervention. But should that intervention have been a police officer with a gun?
According to Smith, Valencia reportedly had prior contact with law enforcement.
Activists continue to demand that the Los Angeles Police Department release the transcript of the 911 call reporting a man with a gun, as well as body camera and other video footage of the shooting. Under terms adopted by the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners 2018, footage from critical incidents involving the LAPD officers become public within 45 days after taking place.
The incident is currently under investigation by the Chief of Police, the Board of Police Commissioners and the Office of the Inspector General and LA County District Attorney to “determine the thoroughness and accuracy of the investigation and whether the use of deadly force complied with the LAPD’s policies and procedures.”
This story is still developing and will be updated as more details become available.