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Crime & Justice

Surveillance Video From Willowbrook Police Shooting Raises Questions About Whether Deadly Force Was Justified




Screenshot of video released by Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department of the police shooting of Ryan Twyman.
Screenshot of video released by Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department of the police shooting of Ryan Twyman.
Courtesy of L.A. County Sheriff's Department

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Following the release of surveillance video of police shooting and killing a young black man in the Willowbrook neighborhood of Los Angeles earlier this month, questions are arising about whether the deputies' actions that led to the shooting were justified.

The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department says 24-year-old Ryan Twyman used his vehicle as a weapon against two Los Angeles Sheriff’s deputies during the June 6th incident. Mr. Twyman was a convicted felon who police say was under investigation for gun possession, and when deputies in the Willowbrook area spotted a white sedan matching the description of Mr. Twyman's car, they initiated a stop. The video shows the deputies approaching the car, and one opens to the passenger side back door while the other goes to the driver side front door. Then, the car suddenly reverses out of its spot, at which point the deputies attempt to retreat. Both pull out service weapons and fire multiple times. One deputy gets a service rifle out of the patrol car's trunk and begins firing from a defensive position behind another car. In the end, LASD says approximately 34 rounds were fired. Mr. Twyman died at the scene from multiple gunshot wounds. No gun was found in the possession of Mr. Twyman or the 22-year-old passenger in the car, who was not injured.

Twyman's family is suing the county for damages, saying that neither of the men were armed and that the officers were not justified in their use of deadly force. LASD is conducting a criminal investigation into the officers' actions as well as an internal investigation into whether the officers violated LASD policy by shooting into the vehicle. L.A. Sheriff's Deputies are basically prohibited from shooting at a moving car unless there is a weapon present.

Following these incident, we’ll talk with police tactics experts about what's in the surveillance video and what they can tell us about the officers’ actions as they relate to how police are trained to react in those situations.

Guests:

Frank Stoltze, KPCC correspondent covering crime and public safety; he tweets @StoltzeFrankly

Ed Obayashi, deputy sheriff and legal advisor for the Plumas County (CA) Sheriff’s Office and use of force advisor for the California Association of Police Training Officers

Cheryl Dorsey, retired sergeant with the Los Angeles Police Department who served for 20 years and worked her entire career in patrol and the gang unit (Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums, or C.R.A.S.H.) in Operations South Bureau; she tweets @sgtcheryldorsey