Mother Of Bipolar Man Fatally Shot By LAPD Says Officers Are 'Lying'
The mother of a young man who was shot and killed by police in at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center on Saturday said she believes officers are lying to protect themselves.
Ruben Jose Herrera, 26, was shot and killed by officers at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in unincorporated Torrance on Saturday afternoon. Officers said that the shooting was prompted by Herrera reaching for an officer's gun.
The man's mother, Graciela Herrera, has a different version of Saturday's events, saying that her son—who she said had bipolar disorder—was initially cooperative in his first encounter with officers, KTLA reports.
Police say that officers responded to reports of a man throwing bottles against an apartment building in the 1600 block of West 207th Street at about 8 a.m. on Saturday morning. When they arrived at the scene, they spotted Herrera, who officers claim was immediately combative.
LAPD Cmdr. Philip Tingirides said, "[Herrera] took a fighting stance and then without any warning, viciously attacked those officers," NBC 4 reports.
Graciela, however, said that her son was putting air in the tires of his bike when officers arrived and that he had been at their home all morning.
"My son didn't throw the bottles. They just had a suspect...they just came and saw him here and just assumed that he was the guy," she told NBC.
She also said that her son was initially cooperative, but that police hit him several times in the back and face, Tased him twice and pepper sprayed him.
"My son was doing everything he was told. I told them to stop. My son was bipolar," she said. "[An officer] just told me to shut up and go inside."
Blanca Mendoza, a neighbor of the Herrera family, said that she and her husband also witnessed the scene.
"[Herrera] did not do anything against the officers," Mendoza told NBC 4. "It was the other way around. It was the officers who started hitting [Herrera]."
In the video, you can see three officers struggling with Herrera near a fence.
"One officer tried to jump the fence—the one that was holding his legs—and he fell on the ground and then he said my son punched him," Graciela Herrera said. "That's not true. A witness seen the officer jump the fence and fall. The other officer pepper-sprayed my son in his face, and grabbed him and threw him on the ground."
Ruben Herrera was transported from the scene to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center for injuries sustained during the struggle with police, and according to Tingirides, was cooperative when he arrived. He was also handcuffed to a gurney while he was treated. At about 2:30 p.m., Herrera was cleared to go to jail, so officers say they removed the cuffs with the intention of removing him from the gurney, then cuffing him again to be transported.
According to officers, Herrera picked up a metal chair and began swinging it around once his hands were free. Officers say they tried to use a Taser on him, but that when Herrera reached for an officer's gun, an officer opened fire and shot Herrera once. Hospital staff tried to save him, but Herrera was ultimately pronounced dead at the scene.
"A witness stated that the suspect reached for one of the officers' guns. At that point an officer involved shooting occurred, and one round was fired," Tingirides said.
Graciela Herrera believes officers are lying to protect themselves. She also said that police told her daughter about a half an hour after the shooting that Ruben had been released from the hospital, but informed her of his death at about 9 p.m.
"If my son is bipolar, and they know he's in danger, why do they unhandcuff him? I know my son didn't do that. They're just lying."
It is not clear whether the incident at the hospital was caught by surveillance cameras. The Office of Inspector General will investigate the case.