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Waters Calls for Probe of Shooting : Police: She says L.A. is ‘on verge of holocaust’ after LAPD slaying of man at Watts housing project.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters on Tuesday joined those calling for an independent investigation of the fatal police shooting of a man during a power blackout at a Watts housing project.

“The people there are angry, upset and frightened,” the Los Angeles Democrat told members of the city Police Commission at their weekly meeting.

“We’re on the verge of a holocaust in Los Angeles,” she said. “You need to see what you can do.”

Outside the meeting room, Waters was more specific, saying she wants the commission “to trigger an investigation by anyone other than the Los Angeles Police Department itself” of the circumstances surrounding the death of 28-year-old Henry Peco. Officers said Peco fired at them before he was shot.

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But several members of a group calling itself the Henry Peco Justice Committee, which is also demanding an independent investigation, on Tuesday claimed that Police Chief Daryl F. Gates and the department have covered up the truth about the shooting. They contended that Peco was unarmed and was gunned down without provocation.

After their statements to the Police Commission, they paraded out of the downtown police headquarters building, shouting, “We want justice!”

Gates said the Nov. 29 shooting, which generated a tense confrontation between police and more than 100 angry residents, is under investigation by his detectives and personnel from the district attorney’s office.

The commission did not discuss the recommendations for an independent investigation and took no action.

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Gates on Tuesday repeated his earlier remarks about the case, saying that “an awful lot of misinformation” about it has been spread by residents of the Imperial Courts housing project, where the shooting occurred.

Last week, Gates held a news conference during which he said that the power blackout was caused by strong winds and not, as some have suggested, by police. He said that while the assault rifle allegedly fired by Peco has not been recovered, gunshot residue found on his hands was “a positive indicator that Peco discharged a firearm.”

The chief said that, contrary to rumors that police prevented paramedics from helping the dying man, “the paramedics were prevented by an incredibly hostile crowd from approaching Peco for 10 minutes.”


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