Police Commission: LAPD Shooting of Daniel Hernandez Partially Out Of Policy

LAPD Chief Michel Moore. (Screenshot from Mayor of Los Angeles Facebook page)

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The Los Angeles Police Commission ruled today that the LAPD officer who fatally shot a 38-year-old man last spring violated department policy when she continued to fire after he lay wounded on the ground.

Officer Toni McBride shot Daniel Hernandez six times on April 22; the commission disagreed with Chief Michel Moore's recommendation that it find the shooting within policy. The panel found McBride's first four shots were within policy, but that the fifth and sixth rounds were not.

The killing just south of downtown L.A. sparked angry protests throughout the summer.

It will be up to Moore to decide whether to discipline McBride. And new District Attorney George Gascón will decide whether to file any criminal charges against the officer. He has promised to more closely scrutinize officer shootings than his predecessor, Jackie Lacey.

DIFFERING TAKES ON THE SHOOTING

Daniel Hernandez. (Courtesy of Arnoldo Casillas)

Police say Hernandez had been involved in a traffic accident when officers encountered him on San Pedro Street. Officer McBride fatally shot him as he moved toward her with a boxcutter in his hand, ignoring her repeated commands to drop the weapon. Moore's report to the commission said McBride also feared Hernandez might attack nearby bystanders.

An autopsy found that Hernandez, a carpet-installer and father of a teenage girl, had methamphetamines in his body.

Video from McBride's body-worn camera showed Hernandez was at least 20 feet or so away when the officer opened fire.

Use-of-force experts have had differing takes on whether the shooting was justified.

Tiff Guerra of the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition said Hernandez was too far away from McBride to be a threat, and had called on the commission to find the entire shooting out of policy.

"What Daniel Hernandez needed that day was help," she said. "And what happened instead is he was treated like a suspect. I join the family of Hernandez in demanding that Toni McBride be fired."

One speaker at the virtual police commission meeting, who only identified herself as Heather, defended McBride.

"People have to understand that you come at a cop with a weapon or a knife or a boxcutter or a gun, you know there's going to be consequences," she said. "Officers should have the right to protect themselves and get home to their families at night."

Hernandez's family has filed two federal wrongful death lawsuits against McBride and the LAPD. In comments before the commission's vote, Hernandez's younger sister, Claudia Hernandez, had called on the panel to denounce the shooting, saying it had devastated her children.

"How do you explain to a nine-year-old that he's never going to have his uncle back, that he's never going to have play dates with him, him going to a park, him riding his bike?" she said.

One reason the shooting got so much attention was that McBride had been featured in many social media videos displaying her rapid-fire shooting prowess at a gun range.

In addition, her father Jamie McBride is an LAPD officer and outspoken board member of the union that represents rank-and-file cops.

UPDATES:

4:48 p.m.: An earlier version of this story erroneously stated that Chief Moore recommended that the police commission find the fifth and sixth shots to be out of policy. We regret the error.