Neighbors Go to Court for Man Accused of Vigilante Shooting

Times Staff Writer

A Pacoima man who shot a woman he claims was selling drugs in front of his home was joined at his preliminary hearing Tuesday by about 10 neighbors who attended to show their support.

San Fernando Municipal Judge James E. Satt ordered Joseph Calvin Grant, 52, to stand trial on one count of assault with a deadly weapon in the Nov. 8 shooting of Lelatta Parks, 29, at Montford Street and Welk Avenue. Parks' right shoulder was grazed by a bullet.

"We're behind him 110%," said Al Williams, a 65-year-old retired maintenance man who has lived on Welk Avenue for 31 years. "What he did is the only way to get rid of the dopers."

Neighbor Danny Yarbrough said drug trafficking in the neighborhood is lighter since the shooting, although motorists still drive up to buy drugs from peddlers.

After the incident, neighbors organized a rally, vowing to rid the area of drug peddlers.

Parks testified that she was on her way home and had stopped to talk to a friend in a car when she was shot. She said she has filed a lawsuit against Grant for medical costs pertaining to her injury.

James E. Blatt, Grant's attorney, argued that the charge against his client should be dismissed or reduced to firing a weapon within city limits, a misdemeanor that carries a $1,000 fine or six months in County Jail. If Grant is convicted of the felony charge of assault with a deadly weapon, he could be sentenced to four years in state prison.

"This particular area is under siege by dope dealers," said Blatt. "This has created a situation of despair and panic and should be considered as evidence as to why an individual would act this way."

But Deputy Dist. Atty. Darlene Duuglas said outside the courtroom that Grant should not have taken the law into his own hands.

"We can't have people acting like vigilantes," Duuglas said. "A situation like that would be intolerable in the civilized world."

Grant, who is free on $2,000 bail, was ordered to appear in San Fernando Superior Court on March 8, when a trial date will be set.

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