Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck placed three Los Angeles police officers who opened fire on an unarmed car-chase suspect on extended leave Thursday, expressing concern about the deadly shooting.
Beck made the decision after a briefing from LAPD investigators examining the circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting of Brian Newt Beaird. Detectives told Beck the officers from the LAPD's Newton Division shot more than 20 times.
"After hearing the preliminary briefing, I am very concerned about
the circumstances that led up to and resulted in this officer-involved
shooting," Beck said in a statement.
"Because of those concerns, I have directed that the three involved officers be assigned home pending the final results of the investigation," he continued. "Determinations regarding training or possible disciplining of the involved officers will be made at that time."
Police have faced numerous questions about the Friday shooting, which occurred after Beaird, 51, crashed his Corvette in downtown Los Angeles and staggered out of his vehicle.
Live footage from KTLA-TV showed Beaird briefly raising his hands with his back to officers, then grabbing his stomach and falling to the ground after police opened fire.
Police previously said they were looking into whether any non-lethal munitions were fired prior to the gunfire, prompting the shooting. The KTLA footage shows an object bounce and roll across the sidewalk almost simultaneously with gunfire.
Only the three officers who shot their guns were placed on leave.
The chief had said preliminary information indicated a beanbag round had been deployed, but it was unclear whether that had any effect on the officers' decision to fire their weapons.
The incident began around 9:30 p.m. as a suspected drunk- or reckless-driver pursuit in Cudahy by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies. The LAPD took over the chase when it reached city limits.
With several LAPD cars following his Corvette, the suspect T-boned a Nissan crossing the intersection at Olympic Boulevard and Los Angeles Street, sending the passing car into a fire hydrant.
Beaird's mangled Corvette spun to a rest on the street corner. He tried to pull away, then abandoned the vehicle and got out, staggering around to the sidewalk on the passenger side.
He was surrounded by officers with patrol cars from the Newton Division when the gunfire rang out. He died less than an hour later at California Hospital Medical Center, authorities said.
The Los Angeles Police Commission's weekly meeting began Tuesday with a mention of the incident. President Steve Soboroff reminded the public that multiple reviews of the shooting were underway.
"That takes time," he said. "And we have time to do things fairly and correctly."
Beck told the Police Commission there have been 43 officer-involved shootings so far in 2013, up seven from 2012. But the 2013 number was "right at" the department's five-year average and "well below" the 58 officer-involved shootings in 2011.