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Off-duty LAPD officer shot in ‘gun battle’ with man who broke into his car, found gun

Police officers gather in the street
Investigators gather near the scene where an off-duty LAPD officer was shot on Wednesday.
(James Queally / Los Angeles Times)

An off-duty Los Angeles police officer was shot in the chest Wednesday afternoon by a man who broke into his car inside a garage in Sherman Oaks and found the officer’s service weapon, according to LAPD Chief Michel Moore.

At a media briefing, Moore said the officer and a woman walked out of their apartment and into the underground garage of a building in the 5200 block of Vesper Avenue, where they found the man in the officer’s personal car, wearing the officer’s bulletproof vest.

The man, Moore said, had gained access to the officer’s gun, which had been stored in the vehicle with other LAPD items in what the chief referred to as a “duty bag.”

The officer, who had a backup weapon on him, moved to confront the man, Moore said.

“An altercation ensued. That altercation turns into what we believe to be a gun battle between the both of them, with the suspect using the officer’s primary duty weapon and the officer defending himself from that attack,” Moore said.

The fight moved from the underground garage to a breezeway behind the apartment complex, according to Moore. At that point, the burglar was shot and fell to the ground. Moore said the officer recovered his weapon and walked back to his car, where he collapsed.

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The officer was shot in the chest and thigh, according to Moore, while the burglar sustained gunshot wounds to his arm, shoulder and leg.

Both were taken to hospitals and are expected to survive. Moore did not identify the suspect or the officer, or describe the officer’s assignment within the LAPD.

“He is grateful to be alive but he is not out of the woods yet,” said Moore, who spoke to the officer at the hospital before he underwent surgery Wednesday afternoon.

The incident occurred about 2:25 p.m. in a residential area just off Magnolia Boulevard, about one block from a school.

Moore said he didn’t think he officer was targeted and considered it a random crime. The woman, described only as a “female companion” to the officer, was unharmed.

It was not immediately clear who shot first or what security measures the suspect had to defeat to gain access to the vehicle and the officer’s weapon. The LAPD said it’s not clear if the suspect brought his own weapons, but Moore said the only weapon he used was the officer’s gun.

Moore said the department would review whether the officer’s weapon was properly secured.

“Our expectation of our personnel is that they lock and secure, that they make every reasonable effort to ensure the safety and security of those weapons,” he said. “We’ll look into the facts of how secure this location was and whether or not the officer relied sufficiently on the security of it. That is something that, of course, all of us need to pay attention to with firearms.”

The incident was not the only recent shooting involving an LAPD officer.

On March 16, a member of the department’s SWAT team was shot by an armed man who was holed up in a home, as officers tried to force him out with gas canisters. SWAT Officer Rodney Williams can be seen in body-camera video on one knee with his gun drawn at the edge of a corner of the home when he is seen getting shot in the neck.

Williams is expected to survive. The man who shot him, identified by police as Jorge Cerda, was killed by another officer shortly after shooting Williams.

Another officer narrowly escaped being shot with his own gun when he was attacked and beaten while working a desk at the Harbor Station in September. A fourth officer was accidentally shot in suspected “friendly fire” from another officer in Hollywood in August.

Times reporter Richard Winton contributed to this report.


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