LAPD urged to examine use-of-force policy after Koreatown officer-involved shooting

The ACLU of Southern California today urged Los Angeles police to examine its use-of-force policies after a 27-year-old Koreatown man was killed in an officer-involved shooting.

Steven Eugene Washington was not armed when he was fatally shot early Saturday by two LAPD gang enforcement officers, who have since been re-assigned, according to police.

Washington's family said after the shooting that he was autistic and learning disabled.

Shortly after midnight, the two officers were patrolling Vermont Avenue near James Wood Boulevard. They saw a man on the sidewalk suspiciously looking around and manipulating something in his waistband area, police claimed.

When the officers tried to investigate, the man advanced rapidly toward the officers while trying to remove something from his waistband, police said.

Then the officer involved-shooting occurred. Washington died from a gunshot wound to the head, police said.

Family members of Washington told ABC7 News he was learning disabled and autistic and had the intelligence of a 16-year-old.

"We are deeply troubled by news reports that two LAPD gang officers shot Steven Eugene Washington, an unarmed, 27-year-old autistic man," Ramona Ripston, executive director of ACLU/SC, said in a statement issued Monday.

"We fully expect the department to conduct a full and thorough investigation into this tragic incident," Ripston said.

"But we urge the LAPD to go beyond a one-time investigation examining the conduct of the officers, and take a broader look at changes in department policy and training that could help prevent such a tragedy from recurring."

Also on Monday, Police Chief Charlie Beck met with the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable to discuss Washington's death, according to activist Earl Ofari Hutchinson.

"Chief Beck expressed deep regret over the shooting and pledged [an] open and transparent investigation," Hutchinson said in a statement issued Monday.

Beck also said the Police Department will continue to review and assess training and procedures during stops with people suspected of having autistic disabilities, Hutchinson said.

Beck could not be reached for comment.

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