LAPD manhunt: Officers who shot at bystanders placed on leave; women recovering

Torrance Shooting Account - 1

Brian Watt/KPCC

Torrance resident Richard Goo heard popping noises during a shooting near his home when LAPD officers mistook two women driving a pickup truck as homicide suspect Christopher Dorner.

UPDATE 2:37 p.m. Los Angeles police’s mistaken shooting of two women driving a pickup truck in Torrance took place on Redbeam Avenue right in front of the house of Richard Goo.

Goo believes the two women were about to deliver the Los Angeles Times to his house, but they didn’t make it.

“It’s very unfortunate because they were just doing their job,” Goo said in an interview in front of his house. Goo, a cardiology technician, has lived in the neighborhood for eight years. He said he and his wife were in bed when they heard gunshots.

“We heard all this pop-pop-popping. And then I hit the ground, crawled around, dragged her out of bed, onto the floor and then laid on top of her,” he said.

When he called 911, Goo said the dispatcher told him the police were right outside his house and to stay in the back of his house until officers came to tell him it was clear. Several bullets from the shooting hit his house and cars. He believes between 30 and 50 rounds of shots were fired.

“When one of the ricochets hit off our glass door, I thought it had come through the door into our living room,” Goo remembered. “So I thought bullets were coming into the house."

Goo called the whole situation “ironic.”

“It’s a bad time to be driving a pickup truck,” he said. “It’s sad that that makes you a target by the LAPD, but they’ve been targeted, so they’re responding."

Goo said he didn’t know that LAPD officers were in his neighborhood to protect a department official named in Christopher Dorner’s manifesto, but he knows that a lot of retired officers from police forces in the region and retired firefighters live in his neighborhood.

“That’s why we live here — it’s a very safe neighborhood," Goo said, chuckling. “And it’s ironic that the only violence our neighborhood has experienced is this — and it was brought to us courtesy of the LAPD.”

Earlier:

Six LAPD officers who took part in the "mistaken identity" shooting of two women delivering newspapers in Torrance on Thursday were placed on administrative leave while the women — Margie Carranza, 47, and her 71-year-old mother, Emma Hernandez — were expected to survive.

The women's lawyer, Glen Jonas, argues that the officers did not follow protocol or the rules of engagement when using deadly force. "With no warning, no command, or no instructions, LAPD opened fire on their vehicle," Jonas said.

The police officers were guarding a person who was targeted by fugitive Christopher Dorner, who is suspected in the deaths of three people, including a Riverside police officer.

RELATED: LAPD manhunt: The search for alleged cop killer Christopher Dorner

Six police officers fired an unknown number of shots at the women, said LAPD spokesman Andy Smith. They are currently on  paid administrative leave as the circumstances of the shooting are investigated.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the district attorney's office and LAPD Force Investigation Division were investigating the shooting.

On Thursday morning,  the officers mistakenly shot at Carranza and Hernandez, who were delivering newspapers before dawn. The police officers thought their truck looked like one being driven by Dorner, who earlier that morning had shot at several officers in Riverside, killing one of them.

Jonas said Carranza required stitches in her hand. Hernandez was shot twice in her  back. Hernandez was described as being in good condition at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

Speaking about the incident at a Thursday news conference, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said, "tragically, we believe this is a case of mistaken identity." 

Jonas acknowledged that the LAPD is in an usual situation with the manhunt for Dorner, but maintains the officers in Torrance acted in haste:

This wasn't even close.  This was two petite Latina women versus a large black man, with a different vehicle, different color. The police didn't take the time to do the identification.  They didn't give  the “suspect” the opportunity to surrender. So the whole thing was just mishandled, and we expect that the city will acknowledge that and go from there.

Jonas would not comment on the next legal steps or give details about the two women other than to say that they come from a hard working family and that delivering newspapers in the morning was not their only job. 

About 25 minutes after the shooting, Torrance police responding to the sound of gunshots spotted another truck similar to Dorner's and opened fire. No one was reported hurt.

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