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Officer Mistakes Glove for Gun and Kills Man

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Los Angeles police officer shot and killed a man early Wednesday when he reached into his rear pocket for what the officer thought was a weapon, but which actually was a glove, officials said.

Chester Randolph, 36, was struck in the chest by a shotgun round and later pronounced dead at the California Medical Center, said Lt. William Hall of the department’s officer-involved shooting investigation team.

The shooting occurred after patrol officers responded to a resident’s complaint of a fistfight between two brothers about 12:15 a.m. on Vernon Avenue, near Main Street, Hall said. The resident also reported that one of the brothers was armed, Hall said.

According to police, Randolph and his brother Sam, 37, had been scuffling over a traffic citation. The younger Randolph apparently had been cited for a violation, but on the ticket the name and address of the older brother had been given, said Jim Bright of the officer-involved shooting team. A third brother, Lewis Randolph, 40, had intervened in the dispute, and shortly before the officers arrived the three Randolphs were drinking beer together and working on Chester’s motorcycle, Bright said.

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“When the officers arrived, they observed the three Randolph brothers walking . . . on the sidewalk, illuminated by a helicopter spotlight,” Bright said. “Immediately, the three suspects turned and began walking away from the officers’ approaching car.”

Robert Snedden, 26, a four-year Police Department veteran, armed himself with a 12-gauge shotgun, left the patrol car and “observed what he believed to be a semiautomatic handgun in Chester Randolph’s right rear pants pocket,” Bright said. He added that when the officer ordered the brothers to stop, Chester ignored the command and quickened his pace.

“He (Randolph) suddenly stopped, leaned forward and reached into his right rear pocket,” Bright said.

The officer, believing he was in danger, fired at Randolph.

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