Chief Beck: 3 LAPD officers fired 15 to 20 rounds at driver in car chase

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The Los Angeles police chief is expected to decide Thursday whether three officers will return to patrol duty after they fired more than a dozen rounds at an unarmed, reckless driver last weekend.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck told KPCC Wednesday that he’d decide whether the three officers would be placed back on field duty after reviewing a preliminary report from departmental investigators about the officer-involved shooting.

Brian Newt Beaird, 51, was shot Friday at approximately 10:30 p.m. at Olympic Boulevard and Los Angeles Street after leading law enforcement on an hour-long car chase from South Los Angeles into downtown Los Angeles.

Beck told KPCC’s Larry Mantle that three officers fired a total of 15 to 20 rounds at Beaird. He died about an hour later at a hospital.  

“It’s impossible for me to tell you at this point exactly why the officers fired, but that is what we will determine with the investigation,” Beck said.

Internal investigators with the LAPD are looking into whether a non-lethal beanbag round that was fired during the shooting had any influence on why officers shot the unarmed driver.

There has been speculation that a beanbag round that was deployed during the incident could have caused confusion amongst officers or influenced the shooting. Beck confirmed that a non-lethal beanbag round was fired at the scene, but he cautioned against jumping to conclusions.

“I mean, we use a beanbag hundreds of times a year, and it doesn’t result in officers firing their weapons, so I think that’s a leap,” he said. “Although it may turn out that that’s what this is, but it’s far too early to say.”

The car chase began in Cudahy with L.A. Sheriff’s deputies, but LAPD took over the pursuit when the driver entered L.A. city jurisdiction.

The shooting was caught on video by an NBC LA news helicopter. The video shows police chasing the silver Corvette, which crashes into a passing car, sending both vehicles spinning. The passing car hits a fire hydrant; Beaird’s vehicle crashes and becomes disabled.

The helicopter news footage then shows Beaird trying to drive the car out of the crash site. When it doesn’t move, he stumbles out of the vehicle. About 20 officers were at the scene when the officer-involved shooting occurred.  

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