DA Charges LA Sheriff’s Deputy With Assault In Fatal Shooting Of Man Having A Mental Health Crisis
Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón's office has filed assault charges against a Sheriff’s deputy involved in the fatal 2021 shooting of David Ordaz Jr., whose family had called deputies to their home to help Ordaz as he was experiencing a mental health crisis.
Gascón said in a statement Thursday that L.A. Sheriff’s Deputy Remin Pineda was charged with one felony count each of assault with a semi-automatic firearm and assault under color of authority. An arraignment date has not yet been set.
“It is imperative that we hold law enforcement accountable when they act unlawfully,” said the DA, who has acted more forcefully against law enforcement officers involved in shootings than his predecessors.
‘He Was Still Alive’ Before The Final Shot
Pineda, 38, was one of four deputies who responded to a call on March 14, 2021 from Ordaz’ sister, Hilda Pedroza. Ordaz, 34, had told Pedroza he had a knife and she was afraid he would try to take his own life.
The deputies confronted Ordaz outside his family’s East L.A. home, while his parents, two brothers and two sisters stood a few feet away in the driveway.
Video shows Ordaz holding a knife while standing on the sidewalk. After deputies fire bean bags at him, he stumbles and begins to run up the sidewalk. That's when they open fire.
“After Ordaz fell to the ground, had dropped the knife and laid with his back facing the deputies, Pineda is accused of continuing to fire his handgun,” the DA's office said in the statement.
“[Ordaz'] head was still up, he was still alive,” Pedroza said. Then a deputy fired one more shot, “and we knew he was dead,” she said.
The family’s attorney, Federico Sayre, called the last shot “murder.”
Ordaz’ family filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit in July 2021.
The day after the family announced the suit, Sheriff Alex Villanueva issued a statement saying he had “grave concerns” about the shooting, adding in a statement that “[o]ne of the deputies has been relieved of duty and their peace officer powers have been suspended, pending the outcome of this investigation.” He did not name the deputy.
The DA Has Charged 4 Officers Involved In Shootings
On the day of the shooting, deputies had called for one of the department's Mental Evaluation Teams to respond, but it had not arrived by the time they opened fire on Ordaz. Many saw the killing as another example of the department’s failure to properly respond to people experiencing a mental health crisis.
Pineda is the fourth law enforcement officer Gascón has charged with a crime in connection with a shooting.
Earlier this year the DA charged a former L.A. Sheriff’s deputy involved inthe fatal 2019 shooting of an unarmed man in his car with voluntary manslaughter and two counts of assault with a semiautomatic firearm.
Only two law enforcement officers had been charged in connection with shootings in the previous nearly two decades before Gascón took office.
“Unlawful and excessive force at the hands of police erodes the public trust and leads to further divisions between law enforcement and the communities they serve,” Gascón said Thursday.
Robert Garrova contributed to this story.