LAPD officer in fatal Venice shooting was subject of criminal probe
A Los Angeles police officer who fatally shot an unarmed homeless man in Venice two weeks ago is a seven-year department veteran who was the subject of a criminal investigation for omitting witness statements in a police report, according to a district attorney’s office memo.
Prosecutors declined to pursue charges of perjury or filing a false police report against Officer Clifford Proctor last year but faulted him for not including statements from two witnesses that he “should reasonably have known … were material to the investigation and should have been included in the report,” the memo said.
LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith, a department spokesman, declined to comment on whether Proctor, 50, was disciplined, saying police personnel records were confidential under state law.
Proctor’s attorney, Larry Hanna, said investigations found “there was no misconduct.” He said “some of the facts were misconstrued by a supervisor,” but Hanna declined to elaborate.
As for the shooting in Venice, Hanna asked the public to “let the process work itself out.”
“These officers were out there trying to do their job,” he said. “It’s going to turn out hopefully that they followed all of the procedures when he used deadly force.”
The department this week publicly identified Proctor as the officer who shot and killed Brendon Glenn on May 5. Proctor and his partner, who was not identified by the LAPD because he did not fire his weapon, have not returned to work since the deadly encounter.
The fatal shooting was captured by a security camera on a nearby building and resulted in heated criticism of the department. Chief Charlie Beck said that after reviewing the recording he was “very concerned” about the incident. The recording has not been made public.
The LAPD, the district attorney’s office and the Los Angeles police commission’s inspector general are investigating the killing, as is routine in police shootings that result in someone’s death.
The earlier investigation into how Proctor handled the police report stemmed from a Nov. 17, 2012, arrest.
Proctor and another officer from the LAPD’s Pacific Division responded to a report that someone had committed vandalism and violated a restraining order at a home in Westchester, according to the district attorney’s memo. At the home, officers spoke with Richard Smith, who said he had seen another man, Salvatori Avini, pull the wooden gate to Smith’s driveway with his hands, breaking it off its hinges.
Proctor verified that Smith had a restraining order against Avini, and arrested Avini on suspicion of violating that order and vandalism, the memo said.
When a detective reviewed Proctor’s report, the memo said, she noticed the arrest cover sheet included the names of two witnesses but no statements from them. She followed up with Proctor, who told her the witnesses were tow truck drivers who said they had damaged the gate to Smith’s property.
When the detective asked why Proctor didn’t include those statements, the officer replied it was because they conflicted with what the victim had reported, the memo said. Proctor initially claimed a sergeant had directed him to leave the statements out of the report but later retracted that statement, according to the memo. The detective pointed out that he still could have arrested Avini for allegedly violating a restraining order. The D.A. memo said Proctor responded: “That’s a misdemeanor. I wanted him for a felony.”
Proctor submitted another report quoting the tow truck drivers as saying they had been hired by Avini to retrieve several cars and had broken the gate while attempting to get access to the driveway. Prosecutors charged Avini with violating a restraining order, according to the memo.
A month after the arrest, Avini made a complaint to the LAPD against Proctor, alleging that the officer falsely arrested him and impounded his vehicle with “evil intent,” the district attorney memo said.
The district attorney’s office determined that Proctor hadn’t filed a false police report.
“Proctor did not make statements in his report that he knew to be false,” wrote Deputy Dist. Atty. Rosa Alarcon, in declining the case. “Although an argument can be made that omitting a material statement is tantamount to making a false statement, there is no authority to support such an argument.”
Proctor’s shooting of Glenn came amid a heated national conversation about police officers and their use of force, particularly against black men. Glenn, 29, was black, as is Proctor, the LAPD said.
The shooting occurred after officers were called to Windward Avenue just off Venice’s famed boardwalk about 11:20 p.m. A caller had reported a homeless man — later identified as Glenn — who was “harassing customers” outside a building, LAPD officials said. The two officers talked to Glenn briefly, the LAPD said.
When he walked toward the boardwalk, the officers returned to their patrol car. Soon after, police said, the officers saw Glenn “physically struggling” with a bouncer outside a bar. The officers approached the man and tried to detain him, police said, leading to a “physical altercation” that ended with Proctor opening fire.
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