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Shooting Shocks Deputy's Friends
Friends and family of the San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy who opened fire on an Air Force security officer in a video-recorded shooting described the deputy Thursday as level-headed and "by-the-book."
Deputy Ivory John Webb, a standout football player at Carson High School who also played for the University of Iowa, entered law enforcement in the long shadow of his father, a respected former police chief in Compton.
"He very much admired his father -- how his father was perceived and respected in the community, and how he was a great dad," said Keith Chappelle of DeSoto, Texas, longtime friend and former Iowa teammate of Webb. "He wanted to be just like his dad."
Webb, 45, now finds himself in the spotlight after shooting Senior Airman Elio Carrion, a passenger in a car involved in a high-speed chase in Chino on Sunday night.
The shooting was recorded by a witness and has been broadcast repeatedly by television news stations. The raw graphic images have come under intense public scrutiny, and Webb's actions have been harshly criticized by experts in the use of force by police.
Webb has been placed on paid administrative leave as a result of the shooting. Carrion, 21, remains hospitalized in good condition.
Sheriff's officials said Thursday that Webb had spent more than 10 years in the department, serving as a jailer at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga and, most recently, as a patrolman based in the sheriff's Chino Hills station. Webb's only promotion came in 2001, and he has not received any of the department's most common awards, officials said. They declined to elaborate on Webb's service record.
The shooting is being investigated by the sheriff's homicide division, and the FBI is reviewing the case to determine if any civil rights violations occurred.
In the digital recording, the deputy at one point appears to tell Carrion, who is sprawled on the street and appears cooperative, to "stay on the ground." Seconds later, the deputy appears to tell Carrion to "get up, get up." When the airman begins to rise, Webb fires three times.
Sheriff's spokeswoman Cindy Beavers said some of the dialogue was difficult to understand, and cautioned that some crucial evidence may be obscured. The FBI has been asked to enhance the recording, she said.
Webb's former neighbors and teammates, many of whom said they had seen the video on television, were surprised to learn that he was the deputy involved.
"You've got to be joking," said Dexter Winans of Los Angeles, Webb's former Carson High School teammate.
"Ivory Webb was one of the straightest guys I've ever known -- don't drink, don't smoke, nothing but a straight square ... a good kid who listened to his dad. I would never anticipate that would be him."
At the home of Webb's father, a woman who identified herself only as Webb's stepmother described the deputy as a "wonderful person, a wonderful young man.''
"Most people who know him feel the same way I do," she said, declining to say more.
Former colleagues of Webb's father, who was Compton's police chief from 1986 to 1990, described the elder Webb as a self-made man who was book-smart and rarely spoke about his family on the job.
Raised in Compton, the elder Ivory Webb was among the first African Americans on the city's police force, joining in 1963 at a time when the force remained overwhelmingly white. Within a decade, the city's demographics had shifted dramatically. After 27 years with the department, Webb took an early retirement in 1990 during a city cost-cutting move.
According to high school friends, the younger Webb's focus was on athletics. Following a stint at Long Beach City College, Webb attended the University of Iowa in Iowa City from January 1980 to December 1983.
Webb was a starting wide receiver in the 1982 Rose Bowl when Iowa ended a 23-year bowl drought, albeit in a 28-0 loss to Washington. Retired Hawkeye football Coach Hayden Fry said Webb was well-liked, but never stayed in touch.
"I haven't heard from him since he left, and I keep up with most of the guys. We're a tight family," Fry said Thursday from Mesquite, Nev. "But he's one who escaped me."
Webb majored in communication studies, but he did not earn a degree at Iowa, said Jody Wiles, a clerk in the registrar's office.
Chappelle, originally from Inglewood, said he helped persuade Webb to go to Iowa and that they became close friends. Chappelle was in Webb's wedding in the 1980s, and said he recalled Webb working in sales following college while expressing his ambition to follow his father's lead into law enforcement.
Chappelle said he could not recall Webb ever losing his temper: "Never; he was always a very jovial and outgoing person. This [shooting], oh my goodness, that doesn't sound like him at all."
Neither Webb nor his attorney could be reached for comment Thursday.
Meanwhile, Carrion's father, Helio Carrion of Montclair, said that at the very least Webb should "lose his badge." He said his son cannot walk right now because of the gunshot that struck the 21-year-old in the left leg. Carrion also was shot twice in the chest.
"It's unbelievable that he stayed alive. That guy shot him too close -- it was close to hitting his heart," Helio Carrion said. "I thank God [Elio] had an angel with him."
His father fought back tears when discussing the video: "I'm angry, I know [the deputy] did wrong."
In 2001, Webb was one of several San Bernardino County deputies named in a federal civil lawsuit alleging the use of excessive force against an inmate at the West Valley Detention Center. The jury in that case ruled in favor of the officers and cleared Webb, who had been accused of failing to stop a fellow deputy's misconduct.
Webb attended Citrus College in Glendora in fall 1996.
Webb's former neighbor, Mike Rainey, 39, met the deputy and his family when Rainey moved to an upper-middle-class Corona neighborhood in 2002.
Rainey knew that Webb was a deputy, but they rarely chatted about his work.
"He never carried himself as a cowboy,'' Rainey said. "He gave me the impression he was very much by-the-book."
Contributing to this report were Times staff writers Jay Christensen, Michelle Keller, Ashley Powers, Susannah Rosenblatt, Mai Tran and research assistant Robin Mayper.