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Police Commission Finds Fatal LAPD Shooting Partially Violated Policy

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

The Los Angeles Police Commission has found a fatal shooting by an LAPD officer earlier this year partially violated LAPD policy.

The panel found the last two shots fired by Officer Toni McBride at 38-year-old Daniel Hernandez, her fifth and sixth rounds, were out of policy. Hernandez was already wounded and on the ground by then.

The finding differed from Chief Michel Moore's recommendation that the commission find the entire shooting within policy because McBride feared for her life and those of nearby bystanders. She opened fire on Hernandez as he advanced on her with a boxcutter, ignoring her repeated commands to drop the weapon.

The April 22 killing just south of downtown L.A. sparked angry protests last summer.

READ OUR FULL REPORT ON THE POLICE COMMISSION'S FINDINGS:

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At Their First Meeting, Two New Faces On LA’s City Council Target The Homelessness Crisis

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Los Angeles City Councilmembers from even-numbered districts take the oath of office on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. Top row, L-R: John Lee, Nithya Raman, Mark Ridley-Thomas; middle, L-R: Paul Krekorian, Kevin De León, Gil Cedillo; bottom, L-R: Nury Martinez

The two newest members of the Los Angeles City Council have taken dramatically different paths to the job, but their first council meeting on Tuesday made it clear they share a common goal: shaking up L.A.’s response to the homelessness crisis.

Mark Ridley-Thomas and Nithya Raman each put forward two motions:

In one, Raman requested city analysts report back on the structure of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s outreach programs, with the goal of overhauling how L.A. connects with people experiencing homelessness. (Council President Nury Martinez seconded the motion.)

Raman's motion read, in part: “[T]hose in urgent need of services often don’t have an obvious place to turn for help, and have trouble finding the assistance they need to navigate the byzantine processes to achieve shelter, housing, and medical treatment.”

Raman wants to see a comparison of funding levels for proactive vs. reactive engagement efforts.

The majority of city-funded outreach examined in a 2019 City Controller Audit was related to encampment cleanups, during which LAPD officers assist sanitation workers. The process is “reactive” in that it usually starts with a member of the public or elected official complaining to the city.

Raman aims to shift the city to a “proactive” model of consistent, predictable outreach where caseworkers can build relationships with homeless people in specific geographic areas. She says it’s a more effective way to connect people with services and ultimately get them into housing.

In another motion, Raman directed the City Administrative Officer and other related agencies to identify funding and possible sites for a homeless services Navigation Center in her 4th Council District.

Ridley-Thomas took a step toward establishing housing as a human right in the city of L.A. He introduced a motion instructing city analysts to come up with a plan to create a “Right To Housing” legal framework that would obligate the city to act on homelessness — or else.

It echoes previous work by Ridley-Thomas. The former County Supervisor co-chaired a statewide advisory group on homelessness that put together a 40-point plan released early this year. It included a recommendation for a “legally enforceable mandate” that would mean local governments could face lawsuits if they fail to house people.

The road map “put forward the idea of an enforceable obligation for government to provide a right to housing within the shortest feasible timeframe,” the city motion says.

In the motion, Ridley-Thomas also ordered up a status report on city initiatives in line with the statewide road map.

A second Ridley-Thomas motion was a resolution to support a state Assembly Bill, AB 71, which proposes an increase in the income tax rate for those making more than $1 million a year. The goal is to create a $2.4 billion statewide fund to address homelessness.

This was the final city council meeting of the year before the winter recess. The motions will be taken up by council committees when business resumes in January.

Also on Tuesday, Martinez was re-elected to a second term as Council President and Councilmember Joe Buscaino was re-elected as President Pro-Tempore.

Officers Who Opened Fire At Silver Lake Trader Joe's Acted Lawfully, DA Says

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Mely Corado's father Albert addresses protesters outside the Trader Joe's where she was killed. (Josie Huang/LAist)

Two LAPD police officers involved in the gunfight at a Silver Lake Trader Joe's in 2018 in which a store employee was killed will not face criminal charges.

In a report from the L.A. County District Attorney's Office released this afternoon, prosecutors found the officers acted lawfully.

The July 21, 2018 incident occurred after suspect Gene Atkins reportedly shot his grandmother and fled the scene in her car. As officers followed in pursuit, police say he fired at their vehicles.

Atkins crashed his car outside the Trader Joe's and fired again at officers as he ran inside the store. Police returned fire, and one of their bullets struck and killed assistant store manager Melyda Corado.

Atkins then took dozens of employees and customers hostage inside the store, before eventually surrendering to police.

The report is dated Nov. 30. That's about a week before new District Attorney George Gascón was sworn in. Gascón has promised to review more police killings for possible criminal charges against the officers involved.

READ THE FULL REPORT:

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1.7% ICU Capacity Left In Southern California; COVID-19 Deaths Quadrupled This Month

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Gov. Gavin Newsom delivered an update on California's response to the coronavirus. You can watch the full video above or read highlights below. This follows vaccinations beginning in California on Monday, when Newsom visited Los Angeles as those were administered at an L.A. County hospital.

A 45-TO-60-DAY SPRINT — HOSPITAL IMPACT WILL LAST EVEN ONCE CASE NUMBERS GO DOWN

Newsom said that there is light at the end of the tunnel, but that we are still in the tunnel, experiencing our most intense COVID-19 surge to date. He said that we are currently in a sprint for the next 45 to 60 days.

The state's modeling about hospitalizations and ICU admissions are becoming increasingly accurate, Newsom said — "alarmingly so." California Health Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly described the pattern the state is seeing: if you look at cases two weeks ago, 12% of those cases will result in hospitalization, and 12% of those hospitalized will end up in the ICUs.

Ghaly said to look at where the state was two weeks ago with 15,000 cases on average per day, with California now hitting more than 30,000 cases per day.

"That should tell you that in the next couple of weeks, what our hospitals will be facing, the amount of people knocking on the front door with COVID to the emergency departments that need an in-patient hospital bed, that might need that ICU bed, are going to increase," Ghaly said.

Ghaly stressed the importance of thinking not just of how will we be impacted, but also how our family members will be impacted by our behavior. Californians over 60 are less than 14% of the total cases, but make up 80% of the state's COVID-19 deaths.

He asked Californians to please stay home, wear a mask when around others, and to defer plans such as travel plans and playing sports.

"I really want to commend people who have been making this decision all along," Ghaly said, "but those who might consider how can they lend a hand, pick up an oar today, I would say that here's an opportunity to make some decisions, especially as we move into the holiday season."

Ghaly stressed an important stat: approximately 40% of those with COVID-19 coud be asymptomatic.

LATEST CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS: 1.7% ICU CAPACITY LEFT IN SOCAL

Newsom shared some of the experiences of the five nurses who he spoke with Monday as they were vaccinated, such as their concerns about bringing home COVID-19 to their families. The state doesn't have numbers yet on how many have been vaccinated so far, Ghaly said, but there are plans to provide that information on the state's COVID-19 website.

There were 32,326 new COVID-19 cases in California in the most recent reporting period, an average of 32,523 new cases each day this week. The state's positivity rate is now up to 10.7%. That positivity rate is up from 6.9% over the past two weeks.

COVID-positive hospitalizations are up 68% over the past two weeks. COVID-positive ICU admissions are up 54% in two weeks.

Southern California is down to just 1.7% ICU capacity remaining. Statewide, there is 5.7% of the state's ICU capacity remaining. Available capacity in other parts of the state include:

  • San Joaquin Valley: 1.6%
  • Greater Sacramento: 14.9%
  • Bay Area: 15.8%
  • Northern California: 29.8%

Southern California, the San Joaquin Valley, and the Greater Sacramento regions remain under regional stay-at-home orders, while the Bay Area entered those orders voluntarily. Over the weekend, the San Joaquin Valley hit 0% ICU capacity. ICU beds are filling up quickly and could be unavailable soon, Newsom said.

COVID-19 DEATHS QUADRUPLED THIS MONTH; 5,000 ADDITIONAL BODY BAGS ORDERED

There were an average of 41 COVID-19 deaths per day on Nov. 14. The seven-day average as of Dec. 14 is 163 deaths per day.

The state has activated its coroners mutual aid and mass fatality program, coordinating with county sheriff coroners and hospitals. There were 142 COVID-19 deaths reported yesterday.

The state has ordered 5,000 additional body bags for the state's inventory, which were recently distributed to Los Angeles, San Diego, and Inyo counties. The state has 60 53-feet-long refrigerated storage units standing by in counties and at hospitals.

AN EXTRA 393,000 DOSES OF VACCINE COMING NEXT WEEK

California's initial allocation of vaccine is 327,600 doses, Newsom said. California is now expecting an additional 393,900 doses from Pfizer next week. Another 672,000 doses are expected from Moderna by the end of the month, once that vaccine is approved. California expects to be able to administer 2.1 million doses by the end of the month, according to Newsom.

The state recently launched the Vaccinate All 58 campaign to promote Californians getting vaccinated in every county across the state. Newsom stressed the need for individuals in each region and county to be vaccinated.

Diversity is a key part of the campaign, according to Newsom, with messaging in the Black community being a particular point of emphasis. He noted the historical problems with vaccinations and mistrust in the Black and Native American communities. He mentioned medical professionals and faith leaders being among those spreading that messaging. The state is using some of its experience from conducting the census this year in the outreach for the vaccine.

The campaign will use 13 languages to connect with different communities.

The governor stressed the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, as well as it being available for free to everyone.

VACCINE DISTRIBUTION: PHASE 1

Phase 1A of vaccine distribution has begon, with health care workers and residents of long-term care settings being vaccinated. This includes approximately 3 million Californians, according to Newsom. Next is Phase 1B, which includes about 8 million people who are considered essential workers/critical infrastructure workers — a public discussion with the committee working on this will be held Wednesday at 3 p.m., which you can watch online. Some of those expected to receive the vaccine in these earlier phases include teachers, farmworkers, and grocery store workers.

Phase 1A Tier 1 includes:

  • Acute care, psychiatric, and correctional facility hospitals
  • Skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, and similar settings for older or medically vulnerable
  • Paramedics, EMTs, and others providing emergency medical services
  • Dialysis centers

Phase 1A Tier 2 includes:

  • Intermediate care facilities
  • Home health care & in-home supportive services
  • Community health workers
  • Public health field staff
  • Primary Care clinics, including Federally Qualified Health Centers, Rural Health Centers, correctional facility clinics, and urgent care clinics

Phase 1A Tier 3: Other settings and health care workers, including:

  • Specialty clinics
  • Laboratory workers
  • Dental/oral health clinics
  • Pharmacy staff not working in settings at higher tiers

The state is allowing discretion at the county level when it comes to prioritizing vaccinations, but within state guidelines.

HEALTH CARE STAFFING PROBLEMS

Staffing remains the top issue, according to Newsom, even moreso than available beds. Available ventilators aren't a concern at this point, Ghaly said.

California updated its health care staffing quarantine guidelines. The state is moving from 14 to 10 days for asymptomatic individuals who have been exposed.

During critical staffing shortages, that is being shortened to 7 days for exposed health care, emergency response, and select social service workers, if they test negative for COVID-19 on day 5 or later. In addition to other safety guidelines, they're also expected to continue to self-monitor for symptoms.

The state also issued a waiver to adjust nurse to patient ratios from 1:2 to 1:3 on Friday in order to help with staffing in ICUs, step-down units, telemetry units, emergency medical services, and medical/surgical units.

The state is also deploying additional staff to facilities across the state, including Cal MAT, contract staff, Cal Guard, and Health Corps workers. The state has also received additional staff from the federal government and has had internal discussions about whether there will be a need to request a federal government medical ship to return to California. Ghaly said that the staff on that ship could be helpful in California.

The state is still asking for more people who have medical credentials to sign up for the state's Health Corps on the state's COVID19.ca.gov website. The state will provide resources and help to waive fees for those participating.

The surge health care facilities currently in "warm" status, ready as needed to receive non-ICU patients, include two in Riverside County: the Riverside County Fairgrounds and the vacant Sears building, each with 125 beds.

CALIFORNIA COVID-19 PHONE EXPOSURE NOTIFICATION

The state's California Notify program launched last Thursday, with 6.5 million people who've activated it on their phones so far — Newsom said that it would be nice to double that number. This feature is available on both Apple and Google Android phones.

You can find the option in Apple's settings under Exposure Notifications, while the CA Notify app is available from the Google Play store on Android phones.

YOUTH SPORTS AND ADULT RECREATION

Outdoor training is allowed to continue at the moment with masks and six feet of physical distancing. Newsom noted that copmetition with modifications will not be allowed before Jan. 25, 2021 at the earliest. He noted some outbreaks within youth sports, and that this is a higher risk activity. The state wants to encourage physical activity and mental health, while also keeping spread down.

OVERALL LOOK AT LA COUNTY NUMBERS:

Here's a look at longer-term trends in the county. To see more, visit our California COVID-19 Tracker and choose L.A. County or any other California county that interests you. These numbers are current as of Monday, Dec. 14:

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Black Women Organizers Lean On Newsom To Appoint Barbara Lee or Karen Bass To The Senate

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U.S. Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) speaks during a meeting of the House Judiciary Committee on June 17, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images.)

Progressives didn’t have long to celebrate Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ historic victory in November. Her win jump-started the unofficial campaign to secure her soon-to-be vacant Senate seat. As Inauguration Day looms just over a month away, Governor Gavin Newsom is facing colossal pressure regarding the pick.

The latest salvo: A coalition led by Black women political organizers is holding rallies in Los Angeles and Sacramento on Tuesday, calling on Newsom to appoint a Black woman to the position.

“We want to make sure that we do not lose our seat and are not erased from [the Senate],” said Molly Watson with the progressive group Courage California. Watson also serves on the board of the Black Women Democratic Club of L.A. County. Harris is currently the only Black woman in the upper chamber of Congress.

Watson and other organizers of #LetsKeepTheSeat are lobbying Newsom to select either Congresswoman Karen Bass, who represents Los Angeles, or Congresswoman Barbara Lee of Oakland, for the job.

L.A. County Supervisor Holly Mitchell, City Councilmembers Mark Ridley-Thomas and Marqueece Harris-Dawson, state Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, and state schools superintendent Tony Thurmond are among the prominent elected leaders who have signed on to the effort.

Democratic groups have differing wish-lists of candidates for the role, however.

Last month, Latino elected officials and nonprofit leaders held a week of public events across the state calling for Newsom to make history by naming a Latino or Latina to succeed Harris. Secretary of State Alex Padilla tops that list of contenders.

The appointment offers a national profile and job security -- an incumbent Senator hasn’t lost in California since Dianne Feinstein won her seat in 1992.

Nourbese Flint, executive director of Black Women For Wellness Action Project, calls the perceived competition between a Black or Latino candidate a “false choice.”

“We absolutely need more Latinx people in leadership. Everybody should have a voice in that conversation and have their values represented,” Flint said. “But it shouldn't be at the expense of other diversity.”

A potential wild card: the future plans of the senior Senator from California.

“Dianne Feinstein could make this job a lot easier for Gavin Newsom,” said Flint, “if she decided she wanted to retire after a wonderful history of being in the Senate [almost] 30 years, and provide a space where we could actually have both.”

The 87-year-old Feinstein's term doesn't end until 2024, but a recent story in The New Yorker suggested she is struggling with cognitive decline.

Meet LA’s New School Board Member: Tanya Ortiz Franklin To Be Sworn In Today

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New LAUSD board member Tanya Ortiz Franklin. (Courtesy of the Ortiz Franklin campaign)

The newest member of the Los Angeles Unified School Board will take her oath of office today.

Tanya Ortiz Franklin won last month’s election for the open LAUSD seat in District 7, which covers South L.A. and several South Bay communities. She’s replacing termed-out incumbent Richard Vladovic.

Franklin’s victory was politically important because it denied LAUSD’s teachers union the chance to install a majority on the board.

Deep-pocketed supporters of charter schools funded a huge ad campaign in support of Franklin, although she doesn’t have much of a history with charters. She’s a former Teach for America member who left teaching to earn a law degree. Franklin then went on to become an administrator for the Partnership for L.A. Schools, which operates several LAUSD campuses on the district’s behalf.

Three other incumbent board members will also be sworn in for new, four-year terms today: Jackie Goldberg, George McKenna and Scott Schmerelson — who won an especially expensive re-election battle for his seat in the West San Fernando Valley.

Last month, I shared a few thoughts about what the LAUSD election results could mean. You can also learn more about where Franklin stands from her pre-election Q&A with us.

By the way, school board members will also choose a new board president on Tuesday. The title doesn’t come with much extra power — but it is often a good sign of which way the LAUSD political winds are blowing.

READ MORE:

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Morning Brief: LAUSD’s Campus Police

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(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Good morning, L.A.

In June of this year, the L.A. Unified School District board voted to cut funds to on-campus law enforcement by $25 million – a 35% cut to the school police department’s overall budget. Today, reports my colleague Carla Javier, the board will hear recommendations on how to redirect the funds.

According to the motion passed in June, the $25 million is to be earmarked for services supporting students in historically underserved schools. In a report that will be presented today, the district’s division of School Culture, Climate and Safety, and its division of Instruction will recommend that the funds go towards psychiatric social workers, guidance counselors, mentoring opportunities, non-police safety personnel and more.

The effort to remove police from school campuses was part of the year’s larger protests around systemic racism and police brutality. Student activists, the local teachers’ union, and Black Lives Matter-L.A. all voiced their desire to have campuses free from uniformed law enforcement.

"Having a police officer on campus doesn't send a message of safety, but a message of fear," said recent Dorsey High School graduate and activist Marshé Doss at the June board meeting.

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


What You Need To Know Today

Coronavirus Updates: Five nurses at an L.A. Kaiser Permanente Hospital were the first locals to receive the coronavirus vaccine. Several legal and employment experts have said employers likely have the right to require a COVID-19 vaccine, but others suggest the answer is not so clear-cut.

Policing The Police: California lawmaker Reggie Jones-Sawyer’s’ recent proposal would require new police officers be at least 25 years of age, or have at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university.

Local Schools: LAUSD’s newest board member, Tanya Ortiz Franklin, will be seated today.

Here’s What To Do: Celebrate Kwanzaa and Nochebuena, pay homage to Federico Fellini, watch a lauded (and long-suppressed) Iranian film, and more in this week’s best online and IRL events.


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