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Criminal Justice

LA Sheriff Has 'Grave Concerns' About Fatal Shooting Of Man Experiencing A Mental Health Crisis

Two posters honoring David Ordaz Jr. were displayed outside the federal courthouse Thursday. The left poster features a picture of Ordaz, Jr. with text that reads "Justice for David Ordaz, Jr." The poster on the right shows Ordaz standing and has a wreath of flowers around it.
Two posters honoring David Ordaz Jr. were displayed outside the federal courthouse Thursday.
(Robert Garrova
/
LAist )
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The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department late Friday released some body cam footage of the March 14 fatal shooting of David Ordaz, Jr. and a statement from Sheriff Alex Villanueva expressing "grave concerns" about the incident.

The video release and statement come a day after the Ordaz family announced it had filed a federal lawsuit.

(Warning: link below goes to a video depicting acts of violence, including the fatal shooting of Ordaz.)

The video released is an 18-minute summary that includes deputy body-worn camera footage which shows deputies opening fire on Ordaz in front of his family’s home in East L.A. It is narrated and produced.

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His family had called for help for Ordaz, who was experiencing a mental health crisis.

The video includes the audio recording of the emergency call placed by Ordaz’s sister. In that call, she says she is worried Ordaz may take his own life, explaining that she thinks he may be high on methamphetamine. You can hear both Ordaz and his sister say he has a knife.

"I want to clearly state I have grave concerns regarding this deputy involved shooting," Villanueva said in a statement released on Twitter after his department made its summary video public.

Villanueva also said one deputy has been relieved of duty pending the outcome of the investigation. The department did not give that deputy's name and did not immediately respond to an inquiry requesting it.

A federal lawsuit filed by the Ordaz family’s attorney last week names four deputies — Remin Pineda, Edwin Navarrete, Jaime Romero, and Nathaniel Trujillo — who were on scene and accuses them of being “negligent,” “careless” and “using unjustifiable lethal force.”

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In a statement, the Sheriff’s Department said once its investigation is completed it will be sent to the district attorney’s office, which will “determine the legality of the shooting.” The department said it will also send its investigation to the FBI’s Los Angeles field office.

State law requires law enforcement agencies to release video of officer shootings within 45 days unless they demonstrate that doing so would "substantially interfere" with an investigation.

It’s not clear why Villanueva did not meet that deadline in the Ordaz case. That said, the sheriff, who was elected by L.A. County residents, has consistently blocked efforts to more closely oversee his department and he has argued privacy laws covering law enforcement officers allow him to withhold that information.

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors and other county officials disagree. This week, the supervisors approved a measure that would compel Villanueva to make all deputy discipline files and body-worn camera video available to the Office of Inspector General.

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Robert Garrova is reporting on the intersection of mental health and law enforcement.