Crime & Justice

Activists want names, answers for fatal South LA police shooting

Candles spell out
Candles spell out "L.L.C.J." for Long Live C. J., outside a residence on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016. Officers shot and killed Carnell Snell Jr. in south Los Angeles on Saturday at the end of a car chase, sparking a protest by several dozen people angered by another fatal police shooting of a black man.
Damian Dovarganes/AP

Activists on Sunday called on Los Angeles police to publicly name the officers involved in the deadly shooting of an 18-year-old black man near his home and to conduct a quick and transparent investigation.

"We don't want to see a cover-up. We don't want to see a whitewash," Earl Ofari Hutchinson of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable said after meeting with the family of Carnell Snell Jr. "We have a family that's grieving. We have a community that's grieving."

The shooting occurred Saturday afternoon. Los Angeles police say they tried to pull over a car with paper license plates at about 1 p.m. After a short chase the driver and a passenger got out and fled. The passenger ran in back of a house, where he was shot. The driver escaped.

The coroner's office confirmed Sunday that Snell was the man killed. His family lives in another house in the front of the property where the shooting occurred. A back gate there was riddled with six bullet holes.

A neighbor embraces an unidentified woman by a driveway of a home where Los Angeles Police officers shot and killed Carnell Snell Jr. in Los Angeles on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016. Snell was killed in south Los Angeles on Saturday at the end of a car chase, sparking a protest by several dozen people angered by another fatal police shooting of a black man.
A neighbor embraces an unidentified woman by a driveway of a home where Los Angeles Police officers shot and killed Carnell Snell Jr. in Los Angeles on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016. Snell was killed in south Los Angeles on Saturday at the end of a car chase, sparking a protest by several dozen people angered by another fatal police shooting of a black man.
Damian Dovarganes/AP

Police have disclosed little about their investigation other than to say a handgun was found at the scene. It was not clear if Snell was carrying it.

In a statement, the LAPD said investigators will gather evidence related to the shooting to determine whether deadly force was necessary and the district attorney's office will review it to see if any criminal charges are warranted.

Snell was the third black man in five days to die in confrontations with police in Southern California. Last Tuesday, Alfred Olango was fatally shot by an officer in the San Diego suburb of El Cajon, triggering three days of angry and sometimes violent protests. Olango was shot when he took a "shooting stance" and pointed at an officer with what turned out to be a 4-inch vape pen — an electronic cigarette device.

On Friday, Reginald Thomas died after being shot with a Taser by police in Pasadena. He was armed with a knife and his wife described him as mentally ill. His brother told a 911 dispatcher that Thomas was high and had a history of violence.

In Snell's South Los Angeles neighborhood of small stucco houses and well-kept lawns there was a makeshift shrine of flowers and candles in front of the property where he died.

Christine Conley, a next-door neighbor of Snell's for 10 years, described the teenager she knew as "CJ" as cheerful and polite, someone who liked to dress nicely and didn't sport gang clothing or tattoos.

She knew he had been in jail but didn't know why.  A Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department website indicated that Snell was arrested in January and released from jail on probation in June. It did not describe the nature of the offense.

"''He's never given me any problems. He's always been respectful and kind," Conley said. "He was always happy."

She said there is outrage in the black community "because of the way police handle our people."

"If he was any other race than black, he may have had another chance," she said.

There were small protests over the shooting Saturday night near Snell's home and at the residence of Mayor Eric Garcetti in the Hancock Park area. Protesters blocked an intersection near the Snell home and eggs were thrown at the mayor's house.

Update 10:11 a.m.: Coroner identifies man killed by police in South LA

The Los Angeles County coroner's office identified an 18 year-old black man who was shot and killed by police on Saturday as Carnell Snell Jr. of Los Angeles.

Officers say Snell led them on a car chase in South L.A., His shooting sparked a protest by several dozen people angered by another fatal police shooting of a black man.

The pursuit began around 1 p.m. Saturday when officers tried to pull over a car with paper plates, suspecting the vehicle may have been stolen, and the driver refused to stop, Los Angeles Police Sgt. Barry Montgomery said. The driver and passenger jumped out and police ran after them.

The passenger ran into the back of a house, where he was shot. The driver escaped.

Police stand behind caution tape at the scene of an officer-involved shooting that left an 18-year-old man dead. Officers say he produced a hand gun after leading them on a car chase.
Police stand behind caution tape at the scene of an officer-involved shooting that left an 18-year-old man dead. Officers say he produced a hand gun after leading them on a car chase.
Annie Gilbertson/ KPCC

Early Sunday, the Los Angeles Police Department said in a statement that it found a handgun at the scene of the shooting. The department did not provide any more information about the gun.

He died on the same street where he lived.

Trenell Snell, 17, said she was outside with friends when she saw her older brother running from police. She said she started running too, and hit the ground when she heard four gunshots. When she got up, her brother was on the ground, handcuffed, she said.

"At the end of the day, the cops came and shot my brother," she told the Los Angeles Times. "Killed my brother."

Snell was the third black man in five days to die in confrontations with police in Southern California. Last Tuesday, Alfred Olango was fatally shot by an officer in the San Diego suburb of El Cajon, triggering three days of angry and sometimes violent protests. Olango was shot when he took a "shooting stance" and pointed at an officer with what turned out to be a 4-inch vape pen — an electronic cigarette device.

On Friday, Reginald Thomas died after being shot with a Taser by police in Pasadena. He was armed with a knife and his wife described him as mentally ill. His brother told a 911 dispatcher that Thomas was high and had a history of violence.

The fatal shooting of Snell immediately prompted a small protest that grew to several dozen people. Protesters blocked an intersection near the house Saturday night and wrote Snell's name on the road in chalk.

Some people waved signs that read "Black Lives Matter," and others shouted at officers standing behind yellow police tape and wearing riot helmets.

Snell's mother, Monique Morgan, appeared at the protest.

"He was just at my house, and we got a phone call that said the police shot him five times in the back," she said.

Police have not said how many times Snell was shot or where.

Tia Gonzalez, 36, told the Times that she came to the scene because she knew the community was "going to be hurting." She criticized shootings by police, saying officers should be better trained to avoid killing people.

"A police officer should not be the judge, the jury and the executioner," she said.