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Essential California: A troubling video captures L.A. sheriff’s deputies’ deadly use of force

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Tuesday, Aug. 3. I’m Shelby Grad filling in for Justin Ray.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is grappling with a troubling case in which deputies are seen on video repeatedly shooting a man holding a knife outside his family’s home. The family had called deputies because the man, David Ordaz Jr., was acting suicidal. The video, taken by deputy body cameras, was released Friday night by the department. The Times spoke to several use-of-force experts who said it showed problematic behavior by deputies.

The video: Ordaz, 34, had told deputies he was upset because they wouldn’t shoot him. His sister had told a 911 dispatcher that Ordaz had talked about suicide-by-cop, and that she was “afraid for that.” As a deputy yelled at Ordaz to “stand back,” several shot stun-bag rounds at him from what appeared to be several yards away. Ordaz then advanced a few steps forward and was hit with nine bullets in a barrage that continued even after he fell onto the pavement.

The analysis: Seth Stoughton, a former Florida police officer and University of South Carolina law professor, said the volley of shots went on longer than necessary. Other experts who viewed the footage at The Times’ request said it was counter-productive for multiple deputies to have tried to communicate with Ordaz, potentially escalating the situation. See more of their comments here.

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The fallout: In sign of how serious the incident is, Sheriff Alex Villanueva, in a rare criticism of his own deputies, has said the shooting has given him “grave concerns.” One of the deputies has been relieved of duty and his police powers are suspended. The Sheriff’s Department said it will forward the investigation to the FBI for review. Ordaz’s heartbroken family is outraged.

Here is the graphic video from the Sheriff’s Department.

And now, here’s what’s happening across California.

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L.A. STORIES

Backers have called L.A.’s new camping ordinance a more humane way to clear encampments, with outreach teams offering shelter and services before any enforcement takes place. Critics say it punishes people for living on the street. Who is right? We explore. Los Angeles Times

Despite protections, “eviction clusters” hit Long Beach. CalMatters

Is L.A.’s transit system failing women? Some believe so and are offering these solutions. LAist

Can an outdoor market slow gentrification in the Inglewood area? “Down the street with the Hollywood casino and so much gentrification going on, I wanted someone from the community to bring something back here that was for the people here.” L.A. Taco

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CRIME AND COURTS

There is a wildcard in the corporate fraud trial of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes: Her patients. Can they offer her a defense? Wall Street Journal

Fans mourn at a movie theater in Corona where a Tik Tok star was fatally shot with his friend. Press-Enterprise

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CALIFORNIA CLIMATE

A cocktail of high temperatures, gusty winds and low humidity will create hazardous conditions this week, prompting the National Weather Service to caution about elevated fire risk for the Southland’s valleys, mountains and deserts. Los Angeles Times

What the wildfires in California, Italy and Turkey have in common. Wall Street Journal

Palm Springs is hitting some stunning heat records. Desert Sun

This is one California town that is fed up — with a lot of things. Fresno Bee

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CORONAVIRUS

Officials in a large swath of the Bay Area announced Monday that people will again need to wear masks in all indoor settings regardless of vaccination status, amid a surge in coronavirus cases fueled by the highly transmissible Delta variant. The move comes several days after Los Angeles County became one of the first in the nation to impose an indoor mask mandate, and Monday’s move greatly expands the number of people covered by such rules. Los Angeles Times

In a short span, L.A. has gone from a place with a vaccine honor system to something tougher. “We haven’t fought this hard, for this long, to let it go awry now,” announced one restaurant imposing a vaccine mandate for customer. “There will be a security guard out front checking all guests.” The reason? To avoid another shutdown. Los Angeles Times

Millennials are increasingly driving the coronavirus surge in some cities. San Francisco Chronicle

There are renewed concerns about inspections where COVID-19 outbreaks have occurred. Mercury News

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An anti-vaxxer learns a lesson the hard way. Eureka Times-Standard

CALIFORNIA CULTURE

An untold history of movie stars, racism and custom suits. “In the days when S.F. was chockablock with show people, the Macintosh suit was a legendary trademark — huge padded shoulders, drape shape, nipped-in waist, high-rise pants with deep pleats,” Herb Caen once said. SFGATE

Hard Summer festival at the NOS Event Center in San Bernardino was the first large-scale music festival to return to the L.A. area since the coronavirus pandemic threw the concert industry into a year and a half of turmoil. It was both a fun and anxious time. And a time to offer the vaccine. Los Angeles Times

Coronavirus is causing problems for a highly anticipated L.A. art show. Los Angeles Times

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The Immersive Van Gogh exhibit
The Immersive Van Gogh hard hat tour, as the exhibition was being installed.
(Deborah Vankin / Los Angeles Times)

What’s really behind the legal war between Scarlett Johansson and Disney? And does she really have a case? Hollywood Reporter

The reception for “Jungle Book” is another troubling sign for movie theaters but good news for streamers. New York Times

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