Crime & Justice

Los Feliz LAPD shooting: Family ‘hoping for miracle,' demanding police records

Walter DeLeon's niece, Zulema Pivaral, leads a protest walk along Los Feliz Boulevard in Los Feliz. DeLeon was shot and critically wounded by an LAPD officer June 19. He was unarmed.
Walter DeLeon's niece, Zulema Pivaral, leads a protest walk along Los Feliz Boulevard in Los Feliz. DeLeon was shot and critically wounded by an LAPD officer June 19. He was unarmed.
Frank Stoltze

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The unarmed man shot in the head by an LAPD officer in Los Feliz last month remains in critical condition, according to his family’s attorney.

Walter William DeLeon, 48, was shot June 19 after raising his hands at officers on Los Feliz Boulevard. One hand was wrapped in a piece of gray cloth and the officer told investigators he believed DeLeon was hiding a gun underneath it, according to the LAPD.

“I think everyone is praying for the best and hoping for a miracle,” said attorney Ben Meiselas. “His injuries are catastrophic.” DeLeon has two teenage children and lived in Hollywood. His family said he regularly took walks carrying a rag to wipe his sweat.

DeLeon undergoes a series of surgeries this week, said Meiselas. He has been unable to speak with LAPD detectives investigating the shooting or anyone else for that matter, because of his injuries.

“Right now, he is fighting for his life,” he said.

The LAPD has identified the officer who shot DeLeon as Cairo Palacios. Officials said DeLeon moved “aggressively” towards officers. Los Feliz rarely sees officer-involved shootings. Detectives with the LAPD, Inspector General's office and LA District Attorney are investigating the incident.

Palacios worked in the LAPD’s Security Services Division and was assigned with his partner to patrol Griffith Park, which sits above Los Feliz Boulevard where the shooting occurred.

The LAPD has refused to name his partner.

Mieselas said that violates a state Supreme Court ruling requiring police to name officers involved in shootings.

“There were two individuals who were involved in this encounter that led to the catastrophic injuries of my client,” Meiselas said. “Both are responsible for what occurred that day.”

But an LAPD spokesman said the department is not obligated to reveal the identity of the second officer.

“He did not shoot,” said Commander Andrew Smith. “He is what we call a percipient witness officer – not an involved officer.”

The family’s attorney posted fliers in the neighborhood in hopes of finding more witnesses. Meiselas said dozens of people responded but only a handful actually saw any part of the shooting.