Warning: Graphic footage of the high-speed chase and LAPD shooting of Brian Newt Beaird appears below.
The shooting death of Brian Newt Beaird is not the first time the LAPD has been criticized for shooting an unarmed person this year, as the department faced two court matters involving similar circumstances.
Beaird, 51, was killed last Friday in the aftermath of a high-speed chase, when hit another car before exitinghis Corvette. Three LAPD officers opened fire, killing Beaird as local CW affiliate KTLA covered the scene on live television. The incident has led LAPD Commissioner Charlie Beck to take three the officers who fired shots out of the field.
Friends of Beaird said he suffered from schizophrenia and criticized the police response.
“It's outrageous that this police department chose to use a shoot to kill policy on him,” pal Gilbert Vasquez told NBC Los Angeles. “He was unarmed. He didn't have anything.”
A number of public reviews of the shooting are underway.
"That takes time," Los Angeles Police Commission President Steve Soboroff told the Los Angeles Times. "And we have time to do things fairly and correctly."
The broadcast of Beaird being shot at bore similarities to the fatal shooting of Abdul Arian, who also sent LAPD officers on a chase that ended in his death after being shot at 90 times in April 2012. Although Arian was also unarmed like Beaird, he called dispatchers claiming he had a gun. He was shot at when he came out of the car and officers believed he had a gun. The object turned out to be a cell phone that Arian was using to take pictures of the officers.
Arian’s family filed a lawsuit against the LAPD, but a judge sided with the department and used the live footage in helping him find the LAPD not liable for the teenager’s death and dismissing the lawsuit.
“The video footage shows that Arian turned towards officers on three separate occasions and extended his arms outward towards them. ... In each instance, Arian held a small, dark object in his hands and pointed it in the direction of officers. ... Based on this footage, the court determines that no reasonable juror could find that Arian's stance did not resemble that of an individual preparing to fire a gun,” U.S. District Court Judge Gary Klausner wrote in tossing out the suit. “"Here, the undisputed evidence shows that Arian, in the process of fleeing from officers, took a shooting stance and pointed his cell phone at officers three times in a span of only 19 seconds. Even if the court assumed that warnings were practicable under these circumstances, the additional undisputed facts going to the reasonableness of officers' actions weigh substantially in favor of officers, such that the extent to which officers issued warnings is immaterial."
Another lawsuit was filed against the LAPD in the shooting of 30-year-old Kamesha Davidson, who was injured when officers fired on her in November 2011. Davidson, who suffers from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, allegedly threatened officers by brandishing a stick with nails when they arrived at her apartment.
Attorney Randy H. McMurray told CBS Los Angeles at the time that the LAPD has a poor track record when it comes to encounters with the mentally ill.
“The police response to the mentally ill has been horrible,” he said. ““The lack of seeking help from mental health professionals has resulted in deaths and serious injuries especially where those persons killed and maimed are people of color.”
The outcome of the lawsuit is still pending.