Crime & Justice

LAPD shootings: In 3 incidents in 2012, officers fired 60-plus rounds at suspect

A murder suspect led police on a lengthy chase Tuesday before officers opened fire.
A murder suspect led police on a lengthy chase Tuesday before officers opened fire.

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During the first of half of this year, Los Angeles police officers fired 60 or more rounds at  suspects in three separate shootings , the department's inspector general reported this week.  

The report concludes that these three “high round” shootings — all after car chases — are a substantial increase for 2012 because officers fired 60 or more rounds in only five other cases between 2007 and 2011.

One of those three “high round” shootings attracted lots of attention in April when eight officers fired more than 90 rounds that killed a 19-year old driver who led police on a highway chase.

“It was because of the risk associated with these types of incidents that we decided to take a look at it,” Inspector General Alexander Bustamante said during Tuesday’s L.A. Police Commission meeting.

“Overall, it appears that incidents in the first half of 2012, on average, involved both more shooting officers per incident and more rounds fired per officer,” the report said.

Each of the three shootings this year involved at least seven officers; many of them fired 10 or more rounds. Some individual officers shot up to 16 rounds. Their occurrence after car chases prompted the inspector general to suggest that the department review its vehicle pursuit policy, specifically instructions that address when more than two police units should join a chase.

LAPD vehicle pursuit policy states, “Unless summoned to the scene, officers in all other units shall remain clear of the pursuit termination point.”

“We had a concern about command and control, what our supervisors are doing at the scene of these officer-involved shootings,” said Cmdr. Andrew Smith.

High-ranking supervisors are allowed to assign more units to a call but the report showed that they did not always form a “tactical plan.” That led to a lack of coordination and communication during officer-involved shootings as several officers responded.

“This is something that I think not only needs a further look at but also is going to affect the way that we run especially our supervisor training,” police chief Charlie Beck said during Tuesday’s police commission meeting.

Starting this month, LAPD supervisors are  required to attend a “command and control” leadership course every three to five years. It reviews policies about vehicle pursuits, officer-involved shootings and other field incidents they’re charged with managing.  

The LAPD has reached out to researchers at Northwestern University to analyze data from officer-involved shootings to determine whether there's a correlation between the number of police officers at a scene and the number of rounds fired.

Below are the press release links to the three LAPD "high-round" shootings that occured during this first half of 2012: