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Chaos erupts at emergency community meeting called to quell tensions after teen is killed by deputies

Chaos erupts at emergency community meeting called to quell tensions after teen is killed by deputies
John Weber, center, older brother of Anthony Weber, yells at members of the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission during an emergency town hall meeting Wednesday at the New Congregational Missionary Baptist Church. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

An emergency town hall meeting called in the aftermath of the fatal shooting by deputies of a 16-year-old boy ended in chaos Wednesday night as the teen's family and residents demanded answers from Los Angeles County sheriff's officials.

Deputies shot and killed Anthony Weber during a foot chase Sunday evening. They said they spotted a handgun tucked into his pants, but investigators never recovered a weapon.

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The year-old Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission — a nine-person board appointed by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors to monitor the Sheriff's Department — called the crisis meeting to quell tensions between the community and the law enforcement agency.

John Weber, the teen's father, brought an enlarged cellphone photograph of his son lying on the ground.

"Where's the gun?" he asked. "I know where the bullets are, they're right in my baby's back."

Sheriff's officials were silent.

At least 150 people showed up to the forum, held at New Congregational Missionary Baptist Church in South L.A.

"You killed a 16-year-old!" another man screamed.

The boy's brother, also named John Weber, also addressed sheriff's officials. "Was my brother murdered? Yes or no?" he asked.

"Yes!" others in the crowd screamed.

At one point, the younger Weber asked a sheriff's captain if his brother's family or community was "due something."

"Absolutely not," Capt. Christopher Bergner replied.

An angry group then convened around the panel, prompting authorities to end the meeting early. Bergner's response didn't sit well with those on the oversight panel.

"We are just as insulted by that response as the community," said Commissioner Xavier Thompson.

Patti Giggans, another commissioner, said the meeting ended early because Weber's family and the community were disrespected.

"The way families are treated after a shooting is not OK," she said.

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In a statement Thursday morning, the Sheriff's Department said that Bergner couldn't hear the question being asked because of the noise in the room. He heard, "Don't you think we are doomed?" the department said.

"That is the only reason why he replied 'Absolutely not,'" according to the statement.

The shooting occurred about 8 p.m. Sunday in the Westmont neighborhood of South L.A.

Two deputies responded to a report of a young man in blue jeans and a black shirt pointing a handgun at a motorist in the 1200 block of 107th Street. The caller, according to audio of the dispatch call, said he feared for his life.

While on foot, deputies encountered a 16-year-old boy who matched the description. They spotted a handgun tucked into his pants, according to statements by the Sheriff's Department.

When they ordered him not to move, the teen ignored the deputies' commands and took off running into an apartment complex known as a gang hangout, Bergner has said previously.

After entering a courtyard, the young man turned toward the deputies and one of them fired about 10 shots. The teenager was struck "several times" in the upper body, the department said in a statement.

Authorities said a gun carried by the boy may have been taken by someone in the crowd that converged on the scene.

After the shooting, neighbors flooded the courtyard and the two deputies called for additional help to control the crowd as it swelled to 30 or 40 people. Deputies believe the gun went missing during the commotion, Bergner has said.

At Wednesday's meeting, Sheriff's Chief Joe Gooden said the deputies involved were not wearing body cameras, but noted that the department is working on a body-camera program.

"It's not as simple as giving every deputy a camera," he said.

For more crime news, follow @nicolesantacruz on Twitter.

Times staff writers Alene Tchekmedyian, Angel Jennings and Javier Panzar contributed to this report.

UPDATES:

Feb. 8, 11:50 a.m.: This article has been updated with audio from the town hall meeting.

Feb. 8, 9:25 a.m.: This article has been updated with a response from the Sheriff's Department.

This article was originally published at 10:25 p.m. on Feb. 7.

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