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Sheriff’s Body Cam Video Shows Deputy Fatally Shooting Man

Updated
Published
Screen shot from deputy's body camera video released Friday, Oct. 30 by Los Angeles County Sheriff's Dept.

Body camera video released late Friday shows a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy fatally shooting a man as he is jumping over a fence with a gun in his hand in the South Los Angeles neighborhood of Willowbrook earlier this month.

It’s the first ever body camera footage of a shooting involving an L.A. County Sheriff’s deputy.

The Sheriff’s Department only started outfitting deputies with body cameras earlier this month. Sheriff Alex Villanueva has said he hopes the cameras will bring more transparency and build trust in his troubled department.

The Los Angeles Police Department has used body cameras for more than five years.

Like other deputy-involved shootings this summer, the fatal shooting of 25-year-old Fred Williams III on Oct. 16 sparked angry protests and accusations of excessive force.

It began when deputies were patrolling Mona Park around 5:30 p.m. and found Williams standing near a group of people, according to the department. The department has said that Williams began running with a gun, and deputies gave chase. One deputy’s body-worn camera shows him pursuing Williams down a driveway and through a backyard, as a child and two adults scurry inside.

Previously, security camera video showed Williams running around a corner and out of sight, before the deputy opens fire.

The body-worn camera reveals that as the deputy turns the corner, he finds Williams on top of a metal storage shed and jumping over a fence. The deputy opens fire at least seven times, continuing to shoot as Williams is out of sight on the other side of the fence.

“He pointed a gun at me,” the deputy is heard saying into his radio as backup units begin to flood the area.

But the video doesn’t clearly depict Williams pointing the gun at the deputy — something sure to renew accusations that the deputy didn’t have to shoot.

“Its true, you don’t see it directly pointing at the deputy,” said Ed Obayashi, a Plumas County Sheriff’s Deputy who analyzes use of force incidents.

But that doesn’t matter, he said.

“It is absolutely reasonable for this deputy to believe that this individual with a handgun, within a nanosecond, could point that gun at the deputy and shoot him,” Obayashi said.

The department said a loaded Taurus 9mm semi-automatic handgun was recovered at the scene.

The coroner’s office has not released its report, but a case sheet posted on its website lists “Cause A” of Williams’ death as “gunshot wound of back.”

“We are in the very early stages of this investigation,” Sheriff’s Chief Matthew Burson, who heads the Professional Standards Division, explains in an 11-minute video package from the department that includes the body-worn images. “Our understanding of the incident may change as addiitonal evidence is collected.”

He added that the department has not drawn any conclusions about whether the deputy violated policy or the law.

The District Attorney’s office is also investigating the shooting — as it does all police shootings in Los Angeles County. But prosecutions are rare.

A spokesman for the department said Sheriff’s officials had shared the video with Williams’ family before releasing it to the public.

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Morning Briefing: Happy Halloween. Vote.

Updated
Published
Voters cast their ballots inside Staples Center. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Good morning, L.A.

We’re 72 hours away from Election Day, but voters in Southern California are already smashing records for early turnout. As of last night, L.A. County officials reported receiving 2.1 million ballots so far, and Orange County officials have tallied 750,000.

My colleague Aaron Mendelson notes that while these numbers are promising, we won’t know until the last ballot is counted whether the high rates continue. In California, vote-by-mail ballots are counted up to 17 days after Nov. 3, provided they’re postmarked no later than Election Day. And L.A. County officials have up to 30 days to certify the results.

Nevertheless, experts are taking note.

“We honestly were scratching our heads and double checking the data to make sure that we had what we thought we had,” Paul Mitchell, California voter data guru and vice president of Political Data Inc., said earlier in the week. “It was pretty astounding.”

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.

Jessica P. Ogilvie


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Weekend Reads

There's a lot going on in the world right now, and it’s hard enough to keep up with our day-to-day lives, let alone to stay current on the news. But if you have some time this weekend, these articles provide much-needed insight into the current moment in L.A., as well as some news you may have missed:

The Compton Cowboys took to the streets – on horseback, of course – to encourage voting. (NBC Los Angeles)

The Borderline club mass shooting was two years ago, and those affected are struggling with grief and idle time. (Ventura County Star)

In Hollywood, 20% of women and 10% of men report being sexually assaulted or harassed on the job. (Deadline)

2020 could be the most violent year in modern Mexican history. (Univision)

Occidental senior Dalra Howell made a film to document the experience of being Black at the college. (The Occidental News)

Paranormal investigator Victor Huesca seeks out the haunted and inexplicable in L.A. (L.A. Taco)

A new boarding school at the corner of Vermont and Manchester will cater to underserved children in the area, and prepare them for careers in the transportation industry. (StreetsBlog LA)

L.A.’s museums are rethinking diversity. (KCRW)

Evictions due to COVID-19-related loss of income will hit Black and Brown communities hardest, many of which have already been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. (L.A. Sentinel)

Santa Monica will open up Ocean Ave. for more bikes and outdoor dining, beginning in November. (City of Santa Monica)

The new design for Echo Park’s beloved Taix restaurant has sparked a mixed response. (Los Feliz Ledger)


Photo of the Day

An altar honors Día de los Muertos in Grand Park, as part of a socially distant public art installation.

(Photo by VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)