Crime & Justice

Police Commission to consider fatal shooting of South LA black woman

FILE PHOTO: Black Lives Matter activists protest U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch at Facebook in Playa Vista on June 30, 2016. They were angry Lynch praised the LAPD's reform efforts.
FILE PHOTO: Black Lives Matter activists protest U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch at Facebook in Playa Vista on June 30, 2016. They were angry Lynch praised the LAPD's reform efforts.
Frank Stoltze/KPCC

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The Los Angeles Police Commission Tuesday will consider whether the fatal shooting of a 30-year-old African American woman by LAPD officers last year was justified.

The meeting comes amid increased tensions over the killing of black people by police and the sniper attack in Dallas last week that left five officers dead.

The shooting of the woman in L.A. occurred on the afternoon of Aug. 12, when officers were called to the Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw neighborhood to investigate reports that a woman with a knife had robbed the Stocker Rx Pharmacy.

Just 20 minutes later, at about 2 p.m., police tried to stop Redel Kentel Jones. At the time, police said she fit the description of the suspect.

Jones, 30, fled into a nearby alley,  and then “She suddenly turned toward the officers,” according to an LAPD statement. The officers used a Taser on Jones, but it “did not appear to have an effect” on her.

Officers opened fire when Jones “began to advance toward one of the officers while still armed with the knife.” She died at the scene.

The five-member civilian commission will decide whether the officers acted within department policy. Last month, the panel determined an officer was unjustified in the fatal shooting of a man who had armed himself with a police Taser and was using it against an officer.

Black Lives Matter activists have denounced the killing of Jones. “People are outraged,” said Melina Abdullah, an organizer for Black Lives Matter and a professor of pan-African studies at California State University, Los Angeles. Activists plan to attend the police commission meeting, as they do every week.

In the wake of the killings of police officers in Dallas, Abdullah sought to emphasize the movement is non-violent, but not pacifist.

“We believe in non-violent, direct action, which was the same tactic that was utilized in the civil rights movement,” she told KPCC on Monday.

She added the group has no intention of ending its protests as a result of the Dallas killings.

The weekly protests at the police commission by Black Lives Matter have frustrated police leaders. The protests often disrupt the meetings and have prompted the commission president to clear the meeting room inside police headquarters. 

That’s why one police leader welcomed Friday’s unexpected demonstration for peace outside LAPD headquarters by prominent rappers Snoop Dogg and The Game, who criticized the police killings of black men but offered to have a dialogue with police.

“We are very encouraged by the openness and the willingness of two celebrities, if you will, and the senior representative of The Nation of Islam in L.A. to have a conversation,” said Assistant Chief Michael Moore. The rappers and Nation of Islam representative ended up meeting with Chief Charlie Beck and Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Black Lives Matter leaders in Los Angeles have argued they are willing to speak with the police, too.