Police Withheld Details in Use-of-Force Case

New findings and evidence released by the LAPD revealed that a suspect who ran from police officers was handcuffed when he was shot in the lower back. At the center of debate is that none of these details were included in the original report of the police shooting, despite being known to officers at the time of the release. Were these very important details purposely withheld by the LAPD?

Kennedy Garcia was part of a group of young men who were arrested after being caught vandalizing a wall. Garcia ran after officers finished putting him in handcuffs. The police officers called for back-up, and they found Garcia hiding under an SUV. He was pulled out by his ankles, and shot in the back after officers saw him holding a “metallic object.” The object turned out to be his handcuffs.

Now the LAPD is under fire for what the public believe is excessive use of force. Different investigations have unearthed other officer-involved incidents, which includes a report about a woman who died in the backseat of a police car.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck explained that what the public think is withholding information is a routine for them, done in order to avoid any interference or problems while they are doing their investigations.

Officers searching for several suspects who had fled after being stopped for questioning found one hiding under an SUV on Woodlawn Avenue in South L.A. The officers pulled the suspect out by his ankles, saw what looked like a metallic object in his hands and opened fire, critically wounding him.

But one crucial piece of information was left out of the release: The suspect’s hands were cuffed behind his back at the time and he was lying on his stomach.

In response to questions by The Times, LAPD officials acknowledged this week that before the suspect was shot, he had escaped the custody of other officers who had handcuffed him earlier.

LAPD Cmdr. Andy Smith said investigators are trying to understand the circumstances that led to an officer shooting a restrained and unarmed man. The inquiry will focus, in part, on radio transmissions that will show what the officers had been told about the situation before they confronted the suspect.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said Wednesday that the news release on the shooting was not an attempt to distort the incident. Rather, he said, the information was withheld to preserve the integrity of the investigation and not taint potential witnesses.

“I am concerned about any time one of our officers is involved in a shooting. If a suspect is handcuffed, I am even more concerned, not only with the shooting itself but with the circumstances that led up to the shooting,” he said.

“The details of the use of force will be made public when the investigation is complete,” he said. “Many times our desire to give out information on an incident has to be tempered with the needs of the investigation. When there is the possibility of misconduct in any investigation, we need to be even more circumspect.” LA Times, 31 October 2012

Whatever the reasons were behind this apparent withholding of information, the LAPD doesn’t have a choice but to bear the anger of the public, even if what they did is for the proper implementation of justice.

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