Crime & Justice

Investigations underway after LA sheriff's deputies shoot, kill 16-year-old

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Law enforcement officials are looking into whether L.A. County sheriff’s deputies were justified in shooting and killing a 16-year-old in Compton this weekend. The father of the teenage boy wants legal action against the officers. KPCC’s Shirley Jahad has more.

Shirley Jahad: Here’s what the attorney for the family says happened Sunday afternoon in Compton.

John Sweeney: Four boys. They weren’t men. Four boys had just finished a meal at McDonald's.

Jahad: Attorney John Sweeney says the teens then were on their way to play video games at a friend’s house that sunny afternoon when sheriff’s deputies pulled over in an unmarked car.

Sweeney: The driver of the police cruiser told them to come over. They complied. Told them to lift up their shirts. They were complying one by one. Young Avery Cody lifted up his shirt and then took off running.

Jahad: That’s when Sweeney says the officer in the passenger seat got out of the car and fired at the teen. Sweeney says Avery was shot in the back, wasn’t carrying a gun, and hadn’t committed any crime.

Sweeney: This kid posed no threat to them whatsoever.

Jahad: Why Avery ran away is an open question, Sweeney says, because "death has silenced him."

Civil rights attorney Connie Rice says the facts of this particular case have not been released, but in general, police can’t fire at people for running away.

Connie Rice: You can’t just shoot someone because they are fleeing. Fleeing is not enough to justify deadly force.

Jahad: Rice also serves on the board of Southern California Pubic Radio.

Rice: The officer has to have a reasonable basis in fact that the fleeing suspect will inflict the immediate bodily harm or the imminent threat of death.

Jahad: Sheriff’s officials haven’t released much information but have said they found a loaded hand gun at the scene.

Avery Cody’s family wants criminal charges against the officers. The family also is considering filing a wrongful death suit.

The L.A. County Sheriff’s Homicide Division is investigating. So is the sheriff’s Internal Affairs Department and the Office of Independent Review.