LAPD shootings up compared with recent years, including two occurring Monday

Yellow police tape blocks off traffic on a street where police stand and a body lies.
The scene of a fatal shooting by an officer Sunday in the Sawtelle area near West Los Angeles that left one man dead.
(Al Seib/Los Angeles Times)

Two separate Los Angeles police shootings Monday of men who officers alleged were armed with knives pushed the total number of LAPD shootings this year to 23, according to LAPD data.

That’s more than the 16 police shootings that had occurred as of this time last year, and above the four-year average of 21 police shootings at this time of year, according to police data.

Nine of the shootings this year have been fatal, compared with five fatal shootings at this time last year and a four-year average of just over seven.


Though above levels in recent years, the total number of LAPD shootings so far this year remains well below the number of LAPD shootings tallied during similar periods in past decades. The number of shootings in the past two years were near 30-year lows.

The police shootings come amid a general increase in shootings and homicides in L.A. — something LAPD Chief Michel Moore suggested was a contributing factor in police officers using deadly force more often this year during a discussion with the civilian Police Commission on Tuesday morning.

Police officials say such weapons represent real, imminent threats. Others claim the danger is exaggerated and that officers are too quick to pull the trigger.

“The intersection I believe that we’re seeing right now is the presence of guns and also the presence of knives, and the willingness of individuals to use those,” Moore said.

The increase in LAPD shootings is in part due to incidents in which individuals have brandished knives and other edged weapons — something that has garnered increased attention and criticism among activists and other police critics in recent months.

Both of the shootings Monday and another that Moore said occurred July 20 involved men who allegedly were armed with knives.

The first shooting Monday happened about 6 a.m. in the 3700 block of Barry Avenue in the Mar Vista neighborhood, after officers responded to a call from a neighbor who reported a woman screaming from a neighboring apartment, police said.

There, Pacific Division officers found a man inside the apartment holding his elderly mother at knifepoint, Moore told the commission.

After giving multiple demands that he drop the knife, which were ignored, the man was shot, Moore said. The man, later identified as Herman Gonzalez, 58, was pronounced dead at the scene. The shooting remains under investigation.

The second shooting Monday happened about 10:50 p.m. near the intersection of Union Avenue and Pico Boulevard in the Pico-Union neighborhood, Moore told the commission.

LAPD officers opened fire 27 times last year, killing seven people. So far this year, officers have opened fire 16 times, killing six people.

Rampart Division officers responded to the area after receiving a call about a man armed with a knife. When the man refused to comply with demands that he drop the knife, he was shot, Moore said.

The man, later identified as Samuel Soto, 43, was taken to a hospital and was expected to survive, Moore said. The incident remains under investigation. Soto could not be reached for comment.

In the July 20 incident, officers in the Hollenbeck Division responded to a radio call about a man with a knife, and found a man armed with a butcher knife, Moore said.

Moore said the man “stood up from a living room couch and charged at” the officers, who moved to another location. Moore said the man then charged at them again, and one officer shot the man in the hip while a second officer deployed a Taser.

The man, later identified as Edward Joseph Rubio, 52, was taken to the hospital in stable condition, Moore said. He was expected to survive. The shooting remains under investigation. Rubio could not be reached for comment.