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Crime & Justice

Inglewood man killed by Sheriff's Deputies in Willowbrook, neighbors outraged

A memorial for Jose de la Trinidad on East 122nd Street, where he was shot and killed by L.A. County sheriff's deputies.
A memorial for Jose de la Trinidad on East 122nd Street, where he was shot and killed by L.A. County sheriff's deputies.
Rina Palta / KPCC

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"Make sure your headline says 'community outraged,'" said John Brown. He lives down the block from where L.A. County sheriff's deputies shot and killed Jose de la Trinidad late Saturday night in Willowbrook.

"This wouldn't have happened in Beverly Hills, Brentwood," Brown said. "Only in Inglewood, Compton, what I call "low-scale neighborhoods." 

It was a cold night and neighbors say most people were inside, some asleep, when the gunshots started. Many heard what happened and have heard the rumors since, but few were out on the street when the car stopped and De la Trinidad got out.

He'd sat in the passenger seat of his brother's car, coming back from a quinceanera, when deputies tried to pull the car over for a traffic violation.

"The car took off and there was a short pursuit," said Sgt. Richard Pena of the L.A. County Sheriff's Department. "The car stopped and the passenger got out. The deputies saw the passenger raise his arm like he was raising a weapon and they fired their duty weapons. The driver of the car at that point took off again."

De la Trinidad died on the scene. Deputies apprehended the driver later. They didn't find any  guns. That's one reason neighbors near the shooting site, where a memorial to the dead man has taken shape, are, in Brown's words, "outraged."

Jorge Dominguez lives about 15 feet away from where De la Trinidad fell. He said some neighbors say they heard yelling, followed by 11 gunshots, but the last two shots woke him up. He waited a beat and then ran outside, where he found a large number of police scouring the area with flashlights.

"I said, 'how great, the police got here so soon after a shooting.' It suprised me, because they usually don't get here so quickly," he said. "Then I realized that it was the police who killed the man lying on the pavement."

That man, relatives said, was a family man who held down two jobs to support his wife and two young daughters. And, they added, he had a work injury that prevented him from being able to fully lift his arm. His mother Sofia de la Trinidad said her son would have wanted no part in a police chase. 

Outside her son's Inglewood apartment Monday, De la Trinidad said she wants justice for her son and his family.

"What can I say? I loved him very much," she said. "They killed him unjustly."

Sgt. Pena with the sheriff's department said homicide detectives are investigating the death. The Office of Independent Review and L.A. District Attorneys Office will also investigate the shooting.