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LAPD report: Woman fatally shot last week had moved toward officer with knife

LAPD report: Woman fatally shot last week had moved toward officer with knife
Authoritiesat the scene where a woman was shot during a confrontation with police in an alleyin Baldwin Hills. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

A woman who was fatally shot by Los Angeles police in a Baldwin Hills alley a week ago was killed after she moved toward an officer while holding a knife, according to an internal LAPD report reviewed by The Times.

The report's account differs sharply from one provided by a woman who told The Times last week that she watched police shoot as the woman ran from officers.

The LAPD's version of the Aug. 12 shooting was included in a single-page incident log that provides the first explanation by the department as to why police opened fire on the woman.

Residents and activists have criticized the LAPD over the shooting and for not providing more information to the public — particularly what happened in the critical moments leading up to the killing.

Police have said that the 30-year-old woman was suspected of robbing a nearby pharmacy while armed with a knife about 20 minutes before the shooting, and that a knife was found near her body.

Coroner's officials have not released the woman's name, saying that they had not yet found her family. The document identified her as Redel Jones.

According to the report, the officers were chasing Jones down an alley near Santo Tomas Drive and Marlton Avenue when they saw her pull out a large knife. The officers ordered her to drop the weapon, the report said, but Jones continued to run.

When Jones "suddenly stopped and turned toward the officers," the report said, one officer used his Taser, "which did not appear to have an effect." Jones allegedly "began to advance toward one of the officers while still armed with the knife," resulting in the shooting.

Money and a robbery demand note were found in her clothing, the document said, and the knife was near her body.

LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith, a department spokesman, said the document's information was accurate based on the LAPD's initial investigation, but declined to comment further.

The report did not identify the officer who shot Jones. Smith said the officer's name would be made public after the LAPD completes an assessment to determine whether any credible threats have been made to the officer's safety.

The California Supreme Court ruled that police departments must generally provide the names of officers involved in shootings unless they can demonstrate such credible threats.

A woman who said she watched the shooting from her car, which was parked in the alley, previously questioned why police shot Jones, saying that the woman was running from officers and never turned toward them.

"I do know for a fact that she was not charging at them," Courtyana Franklin, 21, told The Times last week.

Franklin said she did not see or hear a Taser being used. The LAPD has said a Taser cartridge was found at the scene, indicating the device had been deployed.

Smith said Wednesday that detectives have not yet been able to interview Franklin. An attorney representing Franklin said her client had no comment about the LAPD report.

The events leading up to the shooting began about 1:40 p.m. in a pharmacy in the 3700 block of Santa Rosalia Drive. Last week, the store's owner showed the surveillance footage of the robbery to a Times reporter.

The video showed a woman walking into the family-owned pharmacy and taking a green soda can from a refrigerator. She walked up to the counter and handed the cashier $1. When the cashier opened the register, the woman passed the note.

The store's owner said the note claimed she had a gun. In all, the encounter lasted about two minutes.

When officers responded to the pharmacy, police said, the employee described the woman and said she had a knife. The officers broadcast the description to others in the surrounding area, the LAPD said.

About 20 minutes later, police saw a woman who matched the robber's description near the alley, less than a mile from the pharmacy.

Paula Minor, who lives near the spot where Jones was shot, said she felt shock and sadness when she heard about the deadly encounter.

The grandmother of eight said police should have done something other than shoot the woman.

"I'm certainly not recommending that people walk around with knives into a pharmacy," Minor said. "But they were the judge, jury and executioner."

Jones was the 25th person shot by Los Angeles police this year. Thirteen people, including her, died.

kate.mather@latimes.com

Follow @katemather for more LAPD news.

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