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Jury finds deputy U.S. marshal guilty of obstruction in 2008 shooting

This video frame from a surveillance camera shows a confrontation between off-duty Deputy U.S. Marshall Matthew Itkowitz, left, and Ryan Gonzalez on March 5, 2008, in an alley off Melrose Avenue. Gonzalez was shot and killed during the confrontation.

This video frame from a surveillance camera shows a confrontation between off-duty Deputy U.S. Marshall Matthew Itkowitz, left, and Ryan Gonzalez on March 5, 2008, in an alley off Melrose Avenue. Gonzalez was shot and killed during the confrontation.

A federal jury on Thursday found an off-duty deputy U.S. marshal guilty of obstruction of justice for making misleading statements to police after he shot and killed a man during a confrontation in a Fairfax-area alley in 2008.

Federal prosecutors argued that Matthew Itkowitz lied about what happened in the alley when he shot 26-year-old Ryan Gonzalez, who intervened in a dispute between Itkowitz and his wife outside the tattoo parlor where Gonzalez worked.

Itkowitz told Los Angeles police homicide detectives he shot Gonzalez while being attacked, according to audio recordings of the lawman’s interview with the detectives played during the trial.

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Surveillance video of the incident revealed Itkowitz’s account to be untrue, prosecutors argued.

Unlike Itkowitz’s telling, about a minute elapsed between the end of the men’s altercation and the shooting, according to the video.

Video of the shooting — played repeatedly during the trial — shows Itkowitz and Gonzalez fighting. After the men exchanged blows, they walked away from each other.

Itkowitz can be seen removing a gun from the waistband of his pants and holding it behind his right leg as Gonzalez walks away from him.

In the video, recorded by a wall-mounted security camera in the alley, Gonzalez turns back toward Itkowitz and motions for him to leave when Itkowitz shoots him. Gonzalez was shot five times, including twice in his back as he ran away from Itkowitz, prosecutors said.

“After he shot Ryan Gonzalez, the defendant tried to cover up what he had done,” Assistant U.S. Atty. Lawrence Middleton told jurors in the downtown Los Angeles courtroom during closing arguments Wednesday. “He described a shooting that looked nothing like what you saw.”

Itkowitz was found not guilty on a second count of obstruction of justice when he told his supervisor that two Latino men attacked him in the alley.

In a ruling Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez tossed out two other civil rights charges against Itkowitz.

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Gutierrez faulted federal prosecutors for not providing enough evidence to convict Itkowitz of depriving a man’s civil rights “under color of law” in Gonzalez’s death.

“There is no evidence suggesting that Defendant identified himself as law enforcement with the intent of getting [Ryan Gonzalez] to back off so that he could shoot him, as opposed to simply getting him to back off, with the intent to shoot [Ryan Gonzalez] arising later,” Gutierrez wrote.

For more breaking news, follow @jpanzar.

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