Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

After Another Police Shooting, LAPD Quick to Meet with the Community

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

After Another Police Shooting, LAPD Quick to Meet with the Community

Article excerpt

As the country grapples with the legal and social implications of police shootings, "transparency" and "accountability" have become the watchwords of public protest and official response.

The latest effort in this regard comes Thursday evening in Los Angeles when a community meeting will focus on the fatal shooting of an unarmed transient by a Los Angeles Police Department officer.

As with many such incidents in recent years, this week's violent encounter in Los Angeles was captured on video - in this case, from a nearby security camera.

Based on the video, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck says he is "very concerned" about what happened when officers tried to intervene in a fight Tuesday night involving the homeless man - identified as Brandon Glenn - and a bouncer outside a bar along the Venice beach boardwalk.

"Any time an unarmed person is shot by a Los Angeles police officer, it takes extraordinary circumstances to justify that," Chief Beck told reporters. "I have not seen those extraordinary circumstances."

The LAPD "will expend all resources to find out the truth of what happened," Beck said. One of the officers was injured in the encounter. Both Mr. Glenn and the officer who shot him are black - a point the police chief emphasized - which may help account for the absence of the kind of aggressive protest seen after police killings in Baltimore and Ferguson, Mo.

The police union representing the officer in Tuesday's shooting was quick to criticize Beck's comments.

"It is completely irresponsible for anyone, much less the Chief of Police, to render a judgment on an incident that is in the early stages of the investigation," Craig Lally, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, said in a statement.

"As the final trier of fact in the use-of-force investigation and disciplinary process, the premature decision by the chief essentially renders the investigation process void," Mr. Lally said. "Additionally, by making his opinion public without having all of the facts, he influences the investigation for all parties involved, including his command officers and the public.... We encourage everyone to reserve judgment until the investigation has run its course, and the facts are collected and assessed."

Critics of what they see as police aggression welcomed Beck's comments.

"We thank Chief Beck for having the courage and conviction to publicly state he doesn't see a justification for this shooting," civil rights activist Najee Ali said at a news conference outside police headquarters. "We are asking District Attorney Jackie Lacey to fast-track this investigation. We want charges brought against the officer if what Chief Beck said is found to be accurate following an investigation."

Beck's quick decision to schedule a community meeting just two days after a fatal police shooting reflects the kind of transparency and accountability increasingly evident in law enforcement policies around the country. …

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