Protests Intensify As Panel Finds LAPD Acted Within Policy On Shooting
The Los Angeles Police Commission ruled Tuesday that the LAPD officer who fatally shot a 30-year-old black woman in August 2015 was acting within department policy. Redel Jones was killed in the aftermath of a Baldwin Hills pharmacy robbing; officers pursued her in an alley because she matched the description of the suspect, and she was fatally shot after police say she moved toward an officer with a knife. However, the Los Angeles Times reports that a bystander questioned why the police shot Jones, saying that she was running away from the police and not towards them. City News Service reports that shouts of protest broke out immediately after the decision was issued.
In the days since the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, there have been protests across the city, and Black Lives Matter demonstrators took to the streets of Inglewood Sunday night, briefly shutting down the 405 freeway. The organization had planned an "all out action" coinciding with today's Police Commission meeting, and hundreds of protesters have been gathered outside of the downtown building.
The Times reports that Matt Johnson, the Police Commission's president, began today's meeting by reading the names of Sterling, Castile and the officers killed in Texas, saying that they were all gone, "none for any good reason." During today's panel meeting, the Commission announced their ruling on the fatal shooting of Jones in Baldwin Hills, and although the Commission found that the shooting didn't violate policy, they did find fault with the two officers' tactics beforehand. According to the Times, Jones was one of 36 people shot by on-duty LAPD officers last year, 21 of whom died.
After the decision was announced, some protesters left the Police Commission building and descended on the east steps of City Hall in an impromptu sit-in, according to City News Service. During the meeting, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck—who joined Mayor Eric Garcetti and rappers Snoop Dogg and The Game in a press conference calling for peace on Friday—said that police shootings were down 30 percent compared to last year, which he said was an indication that officers are "doing a better job of regulating themselves.''
Protests downtown have grown in the hour or so since the decision was announced, and the official Twitter account for the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter reports that Melina Abdullah, a BLM leader, was briefly detained by LAPD officers after entering City Hall. According to the BlackLivesMatter LA twitter account, Abdullah was released shortly thereafter.
An LAPD spokesperson was not able to confirm or deny Abdullah's detainment, and said that he didn't yet know if anyone had been arrested or detained at the protest.
Update [5:15]: LAist writer Tim Loc says around 100 to 125 protestors remain at City Hall, chanting "Fire Charlie Beck!" and demanding to speak with Mayor Eric Garcetti.
A suspicious package was found on Spring Street near the protest just before 4 p.m., but has since been cleared.