Three Los Angeles police officers who opened fire on an unarmed car-chase suspect, killing him, have been temporarily taken out of the field, Police Chief Charlie Beck told KPCC-FM Wednesday.
Beck told KPCC’s “Airtalk” that preliminary information indicated that of the almost 20 officers on scene, three fired about 15 to 20 rounds. Those three officers have been taken out of the field pending an initial report that Beck said he expected to receive Thursday.
The chief also said preliminary information indicated a beanbag round had been deployed, but it was unclear whether that had any effect on the officers’ decision to fire their weapons.
“It may turn out that that’s what this is, but it’s far too early to say,” Beck said.
Police have faced numerous questions about the Friday-night shooting, which occurred after Brian Newt Beaird, 51, crashed his Corvette in downtown Los Angeles and staggered out of his vehicle.
Live footage from KTLA-TV showed Beaird briefly raising his hands with his back to officers, then grabbing his stomach and falling to the ground after police opened fire.
Police previously said they were looking into whether any non-lethal munitions were fired prior to the gunfire, prompting the shooting. The KTLA footage shows an object bounce and roll across the sidewalk almost simultaneously with gunfire.
Beck told KPCC that investigators were looking at whether proper protocol was followed in the use of the non-lethal beanbag. The chief told reporters Tuesday that, given “the situation as presented in this pursuit, a beanbag would be an option."
Beck will use the initial report expected on Thursday to determine whether the officers who fired their weapons could return to duty pending the completion of a final use-of-force investigation.
The incident began around 9:30 p.m. as a suspected drunk- or reckless-driver pursuit in Cudahy by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies. The LAPD took over the chase when it reached city limits.
With several LAPD cars following his Corvette, the suspect T-boned a Nissan crossing the intersection at Olympic Boulevard and Los Angeles Street, sending the passing car into a fire hydrant.
Beaird’s mangled Corvette spun to a rest on the street corner. He tried to pull away but then abandoned the vehicle and got out, staggering around to the sidewalk on the passenger side.
He was surrounded by officers with patrol cars from the Newton Division when the gunfire rang out. He died less than an hour later at California Hospital Medical Center, authorities said.
The Los Angeles Police Commission’s weekly meeting began Tuesday with a mention of the incident. President Steve Soboroff reminded the public that multiple reviews of the shooting were underway.
“That takes time,” he said. “And we have time to do things fairly and correctly.”
Beck told the Police Commission there have been 43 officer-involved shootings so far in 2013, up seven from 2012. But the 2013 number was “right at” the department’s five-year average and “well below” the 58 officer-involved shootings in 2011.
Later, the chief told reporters his department would “go every inch of the way” to investigate, noting a “very thorough” review was underway.
“If there’s training required, they’ll be trained,” Beck said of the officers involved. “If there’s discipline required, they’ll be disciplined. If not, we’ll move on.”