Civil rights activists are calling for an aggressive investigation into the shooting of an unarmed homeless man by police in Venice.
In a news conference outside LAPD headquarters Wednesday, activist Najee Ali commended Chief Beck for saying he was “concerned” about the fatal shooting of a man who got in a physical confrontation with officers in Venice the night before.
“We thank Chief Beck for having the courage and conviction to publicly state he doesn’t see a justification for this shooting,” said Ali, who held a news conference outside LAPD headquarters and called for an aggressive investigation into the shooting.
Ali said he was ”stunned” by Beck’s remarks.
“We are asking Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey to fast-track this investigation," he said. "We want charges brought against the officer if what Chief Beck said is found to be accurate following an investigation.”
In response to the shooting, police have scheduled a community meeting Thursday night in Venice to field questions from residents and discuss the incident.
The meeting will be the first opportunity for the public to directly question the Venice area’s police commanders about the deadly confrontation between two officers and the man, Brendon Glenn.
FOR THE RECORD
May 7, 1:15 p.m.: An earlier version of this article said that those who knew the man identified him as Brandon Glenn. On Thursday, the Los Angeles County coroner’s office confirmed his name as Brendon Glenn.
LAPD officials say the confrontation started after two officers went to Windward Avenue about 11:20 p.m. because someone reported a homeless man with a dog “harassing customers” outside a building. The officers talked to the man briefly, the LAPD said. When he walked toward the Venice boardwalk, the officers returned to their patrol car.
Soon after, police said, the officers saw the man “physically struggling” with a bouncer outside a bar. The officers approached the man and tried to detain him, police said, leading to a “physical altercation.” During that confrontation, one of the officers opened fire.
The man, who acquaintances said went by the name Dizzle, was pronounced dead at a hospital. An investigation into the incident is ongoing.
Less than 16 hours after the deadly encounter, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck stood before reporters and said he was “very concerned” about the shooting, which was recorded by a security camera.
“Any time an unarmed person is shot by a Los Angeles police officer, it takes extraordinary circumstances to justify that,” Beck said. “I have not seen those extraordinary circumstances.”
The shooting will be reviewed by the civilian Police Commission, its inspector general and the district attorney’s office. The two officers involved in the shooting have been removed from the field.
Craig Lally, president of the union that represents rank-and-file police officers, criticized Beck’s comments as “completely irresponsible,” considering the investigation was still in its “early stages.”
“We encourage everyone to reserve judgment until the investigation has run its course, and the facts are collected and assessed,” Lally said in a statement.
But the chief’s remarks indicate the video will be a key piece of evidence in the investigation, as others have been in recent high-profile incidents involving the LAPD.
Two months ago, when officers fatally shot a homeless man on downtown L.A.’s skid row, Beck held a news conference and pointed to frame-by-frame stills of a cellphone video that he said showed the man reaching for one officer’s holstered gun, prompting others to open fire.
That shooting also was captured by body cameras worn by two of the officers, a preview of evidence to come as the LAPD expands its use of video technology. The department is moving forward with plans to put a body camera on every officer and install cameras in more of its patrol cars.
The public has increasingly come to expect that controversial police encounters will be captured on video. And when they aren’t — such as last summer’s fatal shooting of Ezell Ford Jr. in South L.A. — residents often express concern about what happened.
“The focus on police is here, it’s now and it’s staying,” said Greg Meyer, a retired LAPD captain and use-of-force expert. “It will become more intense in the coming months and years as more and more people video police with cellphones, and as more and more officers are issued body-worn cameras.”
Charles “Sid” Heal, a retired L.A. County sheriff’s commander, described video recordings as “silent witnesses” that may not show the totality of an incident but “provide a big missing piece of the puzzle.”
“Look around,” he said. “It’s 2015. You cannot do anything on planet Earth and assume someone isn’t taking a video.”
A security camera on a building captured the Venice incident. Beck declined to elaborate about what was on the recording, but said he did not see “the supporting evidence that I normally would,” such as a person trying to arm themselves.
Those who knew Glenn described him as a kind man who constantly told people he loved them. He was known for his “hand hugs” — grabbing hold of someone’s hand before saying goodbye. Glenn treated his black Lab mix, Dozer, like “his baby,” one man said.
But they acknowledged he also had his struggles.
“He was a drinker. He has a drinking problem,” said Allison Holden, 23, who is also homeless. “But we all have problems.”
Glenn’s friends acknowledged he would sometimes be vocal when he drank — one mentioned “a little mean streak” — but said they had never seen him be aggressive.
Thursday's meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Westminster Elementary School, 1010 Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice. The LAPD’s Pacific-area commanders along with Inspector General Alexander Bustamente and Police Commission President Steve Soboroff are scheduled to attend.