Man shot by LAPD in Leimert Park was holding auto part, not gun

Days after Los Angeles police shot dead a 39-year-old man in Leimert Park, neighbors and others have demanded answers about why officers in a residential neighborhood opened fire on someone officials now say was unarmed.

Authorities have so far released few details about the shooting of Jermaine Petit Monday night in the area of ​​Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and South Bronson Avenue.

At a news conference the night of the incident, an LAPD spokesman said the man was carrying a “gun” when police encountered him walking towards King, but gave no further explanation. The department later retracted that statement in a press release, saying a “black metal lock actuator” was recovered from the crime scene.

Petit, who was taken to a hospital in serious condition, is expected to survive, police said.

It was the LAPD’s 20th shooting this year, a quarter of which occurred this month.

Deshonay Howard said she was parked in front of her house across the street when she saw Petit walking past a bus stop near King and Degnan Boulevard and noticed he was being tailed by several police vehicles with their lights and sirens off.

“We all heard him say, ‘I don’t have anything,’ and he started running,” she said, adding that she saw police shoot him three times as his back was turned.

In its news release Tuesday, the Los Angeles Police Department said Southwest Division patrol officers and a uniformed supervisor believed they were dealing with someone armed with a handgun after responding to an “assault with a deadly weapon” call had.

A man matching the suspect’s description, later identified as Petit, did not respond to officers’ orders, police said.

“As the suspect walked away from officers, he turned in their direction several times and pointed at a black metallic object believed to be a firearm,” before officers opened fire, according to the LAPD release .

After the shooting, Howard said officers gathered behind a sign, guns still drawn, and approached Petit, whom she didn’t know by name but recognized from seeing him in the neighborhood.

In the days since, she has tried to take her mind off what happened but has worried about her daughters’ well-being.

Both little girls played King in front of their house; Her older daughter was riding her scooter but stopped when she heard officers yelling at Petit, Howard said.

“The fact that the police didn’t take them [time] look back and see kids playing,” Howard said, frustration creeping into her voice. “My neighbor was outside trimming her hedges.”

Taiyyeba Skomra was playing a pun with her husband and 8-year-old daughter when they heard three gunshots outside. Her daughter immediately hid under the couch while Skomra and her husband peeked outside and saw Petit lying on the floor surrounded by officers.

“He didn’t have anything on his hands and they were yelling at him to turn around,” she said. “There were a lot of cops, and then finally someone with a sign, they approached him.”

After a few minutes, officers turned Petit over and handcuffed him, she said. They removed a backpack he was carrying and spilled its contents on the street.

She said she spent the next few hours staying calm for her infant daughter, who was crying uncontrollably.

“She couldn’t even get out from under the couch,” Skomra said. “I don’t know what comes of it other than terrorizing the neighborhood.”

Skomra said a cousin of Petit’s who lives nearby told her Petit was a military vet who was afraid of officers after previous clashes with police.

At Tuesday’s weekly police commission meeting, LAPD Chief Michel Moore said officers found an auto part known as a “latch actuator,” but didn’t explain why officers stopped Petit in the first place or how they mistook the part for a gun .

The names of the officers involved are expected to be released in the coming days.

The incident is being reviewed by LAPD investigators and the findings will be presented to the Police Commission. Such investigations usually take several months and can last up to a year. According to department guidelines, videos that investigators collect should be released within 45 days. Man shot by LAPD in Leimert Park was holding auto part, not gun

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