The fatal police shooting of a Hispanic teenager in South Los Angeles sparked protests all across the city. The 16-year-old, initially described as an adult man, reportedly confronted the officers with a replica handgun on Sunday. He died of multiple gunshot wounds.
The authorities have identified the victim as Daniel Enrique Perez. They claim the teen called 911 about 20 minutes before the deadly encounter and left his family a “farewell note.” The investigators now believe he had a “desire to end his own life,” said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck on Thursday.
“We believe that this officer-involved shooting was a result of his desire to end his own life,” Beck told the reporters. “We are deeply saddened by these events and my heart goes out to his family as well as to the officer involved in the shooting.”
The chief said Perez had reported a man with a gun matching his own description and that one of the teen’s parents believes it was their son on the recorded call. Declining to detail Perez’s “prior history,” Beck said the boy aimed the replica handgun at an officer.
He added the cop who shot Perez “is devastated.”
Earlier this week, LAPD representative, Norma Eisenman, said the replica handgun looked more real because its orange tip had been painted black.
The officers who shot Perez were wearing body cameras, but Beck said he had “no immediate intention” of releasing that footage, which he said, “clearly depicts his actions and his death, which are entirely consistent with the officers’ version of events.”
However, witness Tiffany Peterson, who watched the shooting from her family’s home across the street, told the Los Angeles Times that Perez appeared to put his arms by his side, but she could not see his hands. The 45-year-old said the cops fired again when the victim was on the ground.
The shooting came a day after the police shot an armed 18-year-old black man, Carnell Snell Jr., in Los Angeles.