Nearly two weeks after her husband was dragged to his death by a suspect who was fleeing Los Angeles Police Department, nothing makes sense to Gaynell Walker.
She can’t understand why officers didn’t act faster to arrest the suspect wanted in connection with two shootings, including a West Valley homicide. Had they done so, she says, they might have stopped the tragic chain of events that took Larry Walker’s life.
A group of family, friends and co-workers gathered in a small parking lot near Los Angeles International Airport on Friday to mourn the 63-year-old father of three while also knowing why the Los Angeles Police Department had the Suspect not apprehended before attacking Walker and stealing his car in south Los Angeles.
Community activist Najee Ali told reporters on behalf of members of Walker’s family that they had filed a petition with the prosecutor. Gen. Rob Bonta to conduct an independent investigation into the incident while they evaluate their legal options. Ali said that while suspect Joshua Reneau was certainly to blame for Walker’s death, the police also have some responsibility.
“We are here because we are outraged. We are outraged that Mr. Walker was killed by a carjacker [who] He should never have gotten in the car because he was under LAPD surveillance,” said Ali, whose words were occasionally drowned out by the roar of landing planes overhead. “The LAPD saw him leave his home, get in his car, and then engage in a pursuit. This pursuit tragically and unfortunately killed Mr. Walker.”
Reneau, a 31-year-old Los Angeles resident, was wanted in a July 29 robbery in which an accomplice was fatally shot by a security guard in Reseda, police said.
Given the seriousness of these allegations, Ali asked if officers should have considered the danger of letting Reneau get into a car – recognizing that he was likely to flee.
A message left at Bonta’s office was not immediately returned Tuesday.
LAPD spokesman Capt. Kelly Muniz said in a statement Friday that the department is “deeply saddened by the death of Larry Walker, an innocent bystander.” She added that the department is “committed to the prosecution of Reneau and will continue to support the Walker family in any way we can.”
The incident is being investigated by the Multi-Discipline Collision Investigation Team, she said, and the findings are being reviewed by LAPD Chief Michel Moore.
“Any deviations from policies and procedures will be addressed at this time,” she said.
According to the LAPD report, Reneau was being monitored by a fugitive pursuit team on Oct. 16 when he was seen exiting a home on the 5900 block of 7th Avenue north of Inglewood.
Plainclothes officers watched as Reneau climbed into the back seat of a Toyota Prius. They tried to stop it, but the car sped away through residential streets, police said.
Police chased the car for several blocks before it crashed near Florence and Haas Avenues in Inglewood – less than two miles away.
As officers approached the crashed vehicle, Reneau got out and attempted to escape, police said. He then stole Walker’s gray SUV, forced Walker out of the driver’s seat, and sped away, police said. But Walker became entangled in his seat belt and was dragged under the vehicle more than two miles.
Reneau crashed into several police cars before overturning the stolen SUV on Florence and Prairie Avenues, police said. Walker was pronounced dead at the scene.
Reneau, who was injured in the crash, kept officers in an hour-long standoff before surrendering.
He was charged with murder in Walker’s death. He also faces four counts of assaults on a peace officer, two counts of carjacking, two counts of possession of a firearm by a criminal, and one count of fleeing a pursuing officer’s vehicle, resulting in death.
The Prius driver, Jamal Sutherland, 34, was later arrested for tax evasion.
In an interview with The Times, Walker’s relatives remembered him as a devoted family man whose kindness extended to people seeking treatment at one of several facilities he ran for people with “various autism and behavioral issues.”
Many of his patients were Army veterans, a source of pride for Walker, who came from a military family.
In college, “self-proclaimed compatriot from Columbus, Ga.,” Kappa promised Alpha Psi, drawn by the historically black fraternity’s public reputation for dexterity. That sense of style never left Walker, who always seemed smartly dressed whenever he left his house, relatives say.
Gaynell Walker recalled how her future husband insisted on picking her up in a limousine on the way to the Lakers game forum to impress her early in their relationship.
Jaime Walker said her father usually puts others first. “My father liked the beautiful things for other people [more] when he liked the beautiful things for himself,” she said.
“They took not only a wonderful father, but also a pillar of our community,” said Hope Davis, his sister-in-law. “I’m angry because not only did the perpetrator take him, but the LAPD took him.”
Muniz said officers should weigh many variables when apprehending high-risk suspects, including those charged with murder: “Do you have time to grab him before they get in a car? If there are multiple people, do you have enough body to grab them?”
She said Moore would decide whether to release video of the incident, as he did after a high-speed pursuit in August in which officers pursued a fleeing motorist who blew through a red light, killing two people.
The incidents have renewed an age-old debate about whether police pursuits are worth the risk, particularly on busy city streets.
In 2017, a Los Angeles County grand jury openly questioned the dangers posed by prosecutions led by Los Angeles Police and Sheriff’s Departments. It followed a report from the Times that found LAPD car chases were more than twice as likely to injure bystanders as other car chases in the state.
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-10-26/family-of-man-demands-state-investigation-of-lapd-after-pursuit-turned-carjacking Victim’s family demands state investigation of LAPD after pursuit