A Los Angeles police officer early Monday shot and killed a San Pedro man who appeared ready to strike the officer with a flashlight, authorities said.
The shooting, which occurred during a foot chase in San Pedro, drew harsh criticism from the family of the dead man, 27-year-old Sergio Garcia.
"I don't think they should have shot to kill," said Garcia's sister, Lupe Naranjo of Pomona.
Garcia's half brother, Samuel Hernandez of San Pedro, said: "What are you going to do with a flashlight? Blind him?"
The shooting is under investigation by the officer-involved shootings unit of the Los Angeles Police Department's robbery-homicide division, authorities said.
Police said two uniformed officers from LAPD's Harbor Division stopped Garcia about 12:15 a.m. Monday on 2nd Street near Mesa Street after noticing the headlights of his car were not on. When the officers told Garcia to leave the car, he made "several furtive movements" under the driver's seat and ran into the Verdes del Oriente housing project, police said.
One officer followed by car, while a second officer, Mark Griego, 26, ran after Garcia, who leaped over a small fence. As Griego tried to follow him over the fence, the officer dropped his metal flashlight, and it rolled toward Garcia, who picked it up and threatened to hit Griego with it, police said.
Griego ordered Garcia to drop the flashlight, but Garcia instead ran for about a quarter of a block and then turned back on the officer, raising the flashlight and moving within striking distance, police said.
Griego fired four rounds from his 9-millimeter semiautomatic pistol at Garcia, police said. He was taken to San Pedro Peninsula Hospital, where a spokeswoman said he pronounced dead.
"(Griego) thought he was being assaulted," said Lt. William Hall of the officer-involved shooting section. He said standard police flashlights are about 12 inches long and are made of aluminum.
"You certainly wouldn't want to get hit by one," Hall said. Police say they discovered what appeared to be rock cocaine in Garcia's car.
Information about Garcia's wounds was not immediately available.