Crime & Justice

LA County Sheriff's deputy shoots at man who points finger at him

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The Los Angeles County Office of Independent Review is investigating an incident where a Sheriff’s deputy shot at a man who was pointing a finger towards him.

Authorities say a liquor store clerk in West Hollywood called L.A. County Sheriff’s deputies early Sunday morning after he was robbed at gunpoint. When he came outside to meet them, the clerk pointed in the direction of the deputies to indicate where the robber had headed.

“The gesture was intended to show, 'Hey, the bad guys are going that way,'" said Michael Gennaco of the Los Angeles County Office of Independent Review.

But that's not how one of the deputies saw the gesture.

"It was interpreted as an aggressive action with a gun," Gennaco said.

The deputy fired eight shots at the clerk before realizing he was shooting at the wrong man. All of the bullets missed. The deputy is new to streets, after having served as a jail guard for a number of years. A training deputy was with him at the time of the shooting.

Gennaco, who is investigating the incident, said the man may have had keys in his hand. He also noted the liquor store had been robbed a few weeks earlier, and that may have added to the deputy's sense of danger.

Gennaco’s not necessarily surprised at the incident.

“It’s unfortunately not that unusual to have a situation in which deadly force is used under a mistake."

He said it happens with suspects, as well as victims meeting deputies during an incident.

Gennaco also said race may have played a role in the shooting.

The liquor store clerk reported that the suspect was black. He is also black.