Crime & Justice

Beck finds officers broke policy in killing unarmed man after LAPD chase

A photo of Brian Newt Beaird during his days in the Army. He was fatally shot by the LAPD at the end of a car chase.
A photo of Brian Newt Beaird during his days in the Army. He was fatally shot by the LAPD at the end of a car chase.
Erika Aguilar/KPCC
A photo of Brian Newt Beaird during his days in the Army. He was fatally shot by the LAPD at the end of a car chase.
In this file photo, detectives examine the scene of a crash and officer involved shooting in downtown Los Angeles in December 2013. Police say Brian Newt Beaird, 51, of Oceanside led them on an hour long chase through city streets before slamming into a passing car, then attempting to escape. Beaird was killed in the shooting.
Eric Zassenhaus/ KPCC


Map of Officer-Involved Shootings | LA Police Commission Report

The Los Angeles Police Commission has found three officers violated policy when they shot and killed an unarmed man on live television following a high-speed chase late last year.

The officers fired between 15 and 20 rounds at Brian Newt Beaird following an hour-long pursuit that ended when the 51-year-old crashed a Corvette into another vehicle, police have said.

After the crash, Beaird got out of his car and walked toward the trunk. Officers said they feared for their safety when he reached for his waistband, according to the commission's recent report of findings.

The commission rejected the officers’ argument, finding "the preponderance of evidence did not support [the officer’s] stated perceptions that a deadly threat was present."

The commission found another officer’s decision to fire a beanbag round at Beaird was in policy.

In an interview on KTLA Thursday morning, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck acknowledged that he didn’t think the officers’ perception of a deadly threat was reasonable based on their experience and training.

“I wish this had been a better shooting. I wish it had not been a shooting at all, but when we find things that don’t fit the standards, then we call them that way,” Beck said.

The three officers’ lives were not in danger, Beck told reporters.
 
“I did not agree with their judgment that the threat that they faced was a credible deadly threat that they needed to respond to with deadly force,” Beck said.
 
“I’m not saying that they lied,” he added. “I’m saying they were inaccurate with their assessment of the situation.”
 
The officers may have believed they were under fire after another officer fired a non-lethal beanbag round at Beaird, said Beck. But that’s not a good enough reason to open fire.
 
“That doesn’t absolve them of the obligation to develop independent, articulable reasons for deploying deadly force — the mere hearing [of the beanbag round] is not enough.”
 
Beck would not say whether he intends to fire the three officers, citing California laws that prohibit him from talking about specific discipline of officers. He expects to decide the officers’ fate by the end of the month, Beck said.​

The three officers were taken off duty shortly after the incident.

In August, the city council approved a $5 million settlement with Beaird’s family.

KPCC is reaching out to the police union for comment.

View the full report

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NBC Los Angeles' Map of Officer-Involved Shootings in the Los Angeles Area

This story has been updated.