The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has recently released disturbing bodycam footage of cops fatally shooting a knife-wielding homeless man and the woman he was holding hostage with the blade to her throat.
The confrontation reportedly took place outside homeless outreach center in Van Nuys on June 16, when officers responded to 911 calls about a man who had stabbed his former girlfriend inside a church.
The suspect, identified as 32-year-old Guillermo Perez, was pressing a serrated knife against the throat of a woman standing outside the church when the officials arrived at the scene.
The video footage showed Perez ignoring repeated commands to drop the knife and shielding himself with a metal folding chair when cops fired non-lethal bean bags at him.
“He moved away from officers and grabbed an innocent bystander who was standing nearby,” said LAPD Chief Michael Moore.
“Perez began to cut the innocent bystander’s throat with a knife. That’s when three officers shot at Perez to stop his actions and prevent him from killing the hostage,” he added.
The woman, Elizabeth Tollison, who was 49-years-old and homeless, was shot twice when officers fired 18 shots during the altercation. Sadly, Tollison succumbed to the injuries and died later at a hospital.
"Was each round appropriate?" Moore asked during a news conference with reporters. "That's the subject of this investigation and I will not comment on that until I have all the facts."
The recently released video marked the second time LAPD gunfire has killed a bystander in the last six weeks.
It had been 13 years since the department killed someone innocent while confronting armed suspects. But such shootings, described by Moore as “every officer's worst nightmare,” have happened twice in just a matter of few weeks.
"Tragically, this is another case where officers were forced to make split-second decisions based on the actions of a violent individual," Moore told reporters. "This was a tense situation that unfolded very quickly and it's every officer's worst nightmare."
However, Tollison’s family isn’t going to let the matter go and intends to file a wrongful death and negligence claim against the LAPD.
"The real tragedy is the Los Angeles Police Department's tactical response to this incident," Brian Dunn, an attorney with the Cochran Law Firm, told reporters in Los Angeles. "Because of a series of training violations, because of actions that fell completely below the standard of their own training protocol, what we had was a death of a completely innocent person that was totally and utterly preventable."
As of yet, the LAPD hadn’t commented on the pending litigation.
Banner Image Credits: Las Vegas Metropolitan Police/Handout/via REUTERS