Crime & Justice

Police commission says officers' shooting of black woman was 'within policy'

Black Lives Matter demonstrators marched from Los Angeles police headquarters to City Hall on July 12, 2016, in protest of the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners ruling that officers fatal shooting of a 30-year-old black woman, Redel Kentel Jones, in August 2015 was
Black Lives Matter demonstrators marched from Los Angeles police headquarters to City Hall on July 12, 2016, in protest of the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners ruling that officers fatal shooting of a 30-year-old black woman, Redel Kentel Jones, in August 2015 was "within policy."
Frank Stoltze/KPCC
Black Lives Matter demonstrators marched from Los Angeles police headquarters to City Hall on July 12, 2016, in protest of the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners ruling that officers fatal shooting of a 30-year-old black woman, Redel Kentel Jones, in August 2015 was
Police in riot gear keep protesters out of City Hall on Tuesday, July 12, 2016. The protesters marched from police headquarters to City Hall after the Board of Police Commissioners ruled that officers acted "within policy" in the fatal shooting of Redel Kental Jones, 30, in August 2015.
Frank Stoltze / KPCC
Black Lives Matter demonstrators marched from Los Angeles police headquarters to City Hall on July 12, 2016, in protest of the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners ruling that officers fatal shooting of a 30-year-old black woman, Redel Kentel Jones, in August 2015 was
Los Angeles Police Department officers negotiate with Jim Lafferty of the Los Angeles Lawyers Guild to maintain a peaceful protest outside City Hall as demonstrators protested a Board of Police Commissioners ruling that found that officers' fatal shooting of Redel Kentel Jones, 30, in August was "within policy."
Frank Stoltze / KPCC
Black Lives Matter demonstrators marched from Los Angeles police headquarters to City Hall on July 12, 2016, in protest of the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners ruling that officers fatal shooting of a 30-year-old black woman, Redel Kentel Jones, in August 2015 was
Black Lives Matter protesters assembled outside a meeting of the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners at LAPD headquarters on July 12, 2016. The commission was considering whether LAPD officers' shooting in August 2015 of a 30-year-old black woman, Redel Kentel Jones, was justified.
Frank Stoltze / KPCC
Black Lives Matter demonstrators marched from Los Angeles police headquarters to City Hall on July 12, 2016, in protest of the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners ruling that officers fatal shooting of a 30-year-old black woman, Redel Kentel Jones, in August 2015 was
Black Lives Matter protesters assembled outside a meeting of the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners at LAPD headquarters on July 12, 2016. The commission was considering whether LAPD officers' shooting in August 2015 of a 30-year-old black woman, Redel Kentel Jones, was justified.
Frank Stoltze / KPCC
Black Lives Matter demonstrators marched from Los Angeles police headquarters to City Hall on July 12, 2016, in protest of the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners ruling that officers fatal shooting of a 30-year-old black woman, Redel Kentel Jones, in August 2015 was
Black Lives Matter protesters assembled outside a meeting of the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners at LAPD headquarters on July 12, 2016. The commission was considering whether LAPD officers' shooting in August 2015 of a 30-year-old black woman, Redel Kentel Jones, was justified.
Frank Stoltze / KPCC
Black Lives Matter demonstrators marched from Los Angeles police headquarters to City Hall on July 12, 2016, in protest of the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners ruling that officers fatal shooting of a 30-year-old black woman, Redel Kentel Jones, in August 2015 was
Black Lives Matter protesters assembled outside a meeting of the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners at LAPD headquarters on July 12, 2016. The commission was considering whether LAPD officers' shooting in August 2015 of a 30-year-old black woman, Redel Kentel Jones, was justified.
Frank Stoltze/KPCC
Black Lives Matter demonstrators marched from Los Angeles police headquarters to City Hall on July 12, 2016, in protest of the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners ruling that officers fatal shooting of a 30-year-old black woman, Redel Kentel Jones, in August 2015 was
Black Lives Matter protesters assembled outside a meeting of the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners at LAPD headquarters on July 12, 2016. The commission was considering whether LAPD officers' shooting in August 2015 of a 30-year-old black woman, Redel Kentel Jones, was justified.
Frank Stoltze/KPCC
Black Lives Matter demonstrators marched from Los Angeles police headquarters to City Hall on July 12, 2016, in protest of the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners ruling that officers fatal shooting of a 30-year-old black woman, Redel Kentel Jones, in August 2015 was
Black Lives Matter protesters assembled outside a meeting of the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners at LAPD headquarters on July 12, 2016. The commission was considering whether LAPD officers' shooting in August 2015 of a 30-year-old black woman, Redel Kentel Jones, was justified.
Frank Stoltze/KPCC
Black Lives Matter demonstrators marched from Los Angeles police headquarters to City Hall on July 12, 2016, in protest of the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners ruling that officers fatal shooting of a 30-year-old black woman, Redel Kentel Jones, in August 2015 was
Los Angeles Police Officers form a line to separate protesters from Police Commission members during a commission meeting at LAPD headquarters on July 12, 2016. The commission was considering whether LAPD officers' shooting in August 2015 of a 30-year-old black woman, Redel Kentel Jones, was justified.
Frank Stoltze / KPCC


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Los Angeles police officers' use of force in the fatal shooting of a black woman last August was "within policy," although some of the officers' tactics were not, the city's Board of Police Commissioners decided Tuesday.

Read Beck's report | Read the commission's report | A look at recent commission rulings

The commission, agreeing with the recommendation of LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, determined that the officers were justified in "drawing and exhibiting" their weapons and using lethal force in the shooting death of Redel Kentel Jones, 30, last August. However, the commission stated that the officers' tactics — their methods in approaching Jones — "warrant a finding of Administrative Disapproval."

Black Lives Matter activists immediately denounced the decision.

“I don’t care if she was armed with a kitchen knife,” said Melina Abdullah, a professor at Cal State Dominguez Hills.  “I could wrestle a kitchen knife away from a 4-foot 10-inch woman.”

Jones was shot and killed by LAPD officers who said she approached them with a knife after they confronted her while responding to a report of a robbery at a drug store.

A crowd of about 100 people that had gathered outside police headquarters immediately erupted in chants of Redel Jones’ name when they heard the decision. They then marched to City Hall and blocked the main east entrance to the building.

LAPD patrol units, with lights flashing and sirens blaring, roared up Main Street in response. Officers in riot helmets jumped out and appeared to be ready to clear the protesters.

“They are treating us, the people that live in this city, as if we are enemy forces,” said Angela James through a megaphone.

But the officers soon backed off. 

As of 4 p.m. City Hall’s doors remained locked, with a line of officers just inside the glass doors.

Tuesday's commission meeting was disrupted briefly when protesters in the audience began loudly chanting slogans denouncing police killings of African-Americans. Police officers formed a line to separate the chanting protesters from commissioners.

Police Chief Charlie Beck said the actions of the protesters showed they did not want a dialogue with police. 

Jones was shot and killed on the afternoon of Aug. 12, after officers were called to the Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw neighborhood to investigate reports that a woman with a knife had robbed the Stocker Rx Pharmacy. Just 20 minutes later, at about 2 p.m., police tried to stop Jones. At the time, police said she fit the description of the suspect.

Jones fled into a nearby alley, and then "suddenly turned toward the officers,” according to an LAPD statement. The officers used a Taser on Jones, but it “did not appear to have an effect” on her.

Officers opened fire when Jones “began to advance toward one of the officers while still armed with the knife,” police said. She died at the scene.

Marcus Vaughn, husband of Jones, said he traveled from Oakland to urge the police commission to change LAPD policies because they don't work. "They only result in murder and separations of families," he said.

Marcus Vaughn, husband of Redel Kentel Jones, who was shot and killed by Los Angeles police officers in August 2015, traveled from Oakland to appear at a meeting of L.A. police commissioners on July 12, 2016. Vaughn said he was there to urge the commission to change LAPD policies because they don't work.
Marcus Vaughn, husband of Redel Kentel Jones, who was shot and killed by Los Angeles police officers in August 2015, traveled from Oakland to appear at a meeting of L.A. police commissioners on July 12, 2016. Vaughn said he was there to urge the commission to change LAPD policies because they don't work. "They only result in murder and separations of families," he said. The commission was considering whether officers acted within policy when they shot the 30-year-old Jones, who is black.
Frank Stoltze/KPCC

Vaughn also called for the policeman involved in his wife's death to be "prosecuted to the full extent of the law." He said the police version of events that his wife brandished a knife is a lie. 

"They are covering it up. They are trying to save their own selves by claiming she was involved in criminal action," he said.

In addition to the protests inside the meeting, about 100 demonstrators gathered outside police headquarters. 

A look at past LA police commission rulings

Out-of-policy rulings are fairly rare, though not unheard-of. In rulings handed down from 2011 through 2015, the police commission more often found that officers' "tactics" were inappropriate. Far less often, commissioners found that use of lethal force was out of policy.

In 2011, for instance, the commission found nine officers out of policy for tactics but only two out of policy for lethal force. 

Below is a chart tracking the commission's rulings during that time period, though a couple things should be noted first:

(Source: Data via the 2015 LAPD Year-end Review of Use of Force)

 

Board of Police Commissioners' report

Police commission report


 

 

This story has been updated.