The Los Angeles police officers who fatally shot two men over the weekend in separate incidents did so because they feared for their lives, the city’s police chief said Monday. A black teen was shot Saturday and an unidentified Hispanic man the next day triggering protests in the city.
Charlie Beck, chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, said that 18-year-old Carnell Snell pointed a gun at the officers after being pulled over for a suspected stolen car. He ran from the officers prompting them to pursue him on foot.
“At one point during the foot pursuit ... they observed him remove a handgun from his waistband and hold it in his left hand,” Beck said. “He ran into a driveway ... and while holding the handgun in his left hand he turned in the direction of the pursuing officers, at which time an officer-involved shooting occurred. A total of six rounds were fired, and Carnell Snell was sent to the pavement.”
Snell was declared dead at the scene. Officers did not have body cameras on them but a surveillance video footage from a local business showed the teen was armed, the police chief said.
The shooting prompted protesters to gather Saturday night in Los Angeles. Some of them threw eggs at Mayor Eric Garcetti’s home. Snell is the third black man in five days to have been shot dead by police in Southern California. Last Tuesday, police in San Diego suburb of El Cajon shot dead Alfred Olango when he pointed at an officer what turned out to be an electronic cigarette device.
About Sunday’s fatal shooting, Beck said that the Hispanic man was shot after he pointed at police what was later known to be a replica handgun. The orange tip that is used to differentiate between a fake and a real gun was colored black to make the toy weapon look real, according to the police chief. The two officers involved in this shooting were reportedly wearing body cameras.
Beck also dismissed claims that the man was shot on the ground. “In both these instances the officers feared for their lives because of the actions of the individuals that they were pursuing,” the police chief said.