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Criminal Justice

One Deputy Fired, One Suspended For Fatal 2019 Shooting Of Ryan Twyman

A video screenshot shows a sheriff's deputy pointing a gun toward the open rear passenger door of a white sedan. In the distance another deputy can be seeing also pointing a weapon. Flashes can be seen coming from his gun.
A screenshot from the video released by the Sheriff's Department of the shooting of Ryan Twyman.
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L.A. Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Wednesday that one deputy was fired and another suspended for 30 days for fatally shooting Ryan Twyman in 2019.

“That is accountability,” said the sheriff, who did not name the deputies or say when the discipline was imposed. He also criticized the office of DA George Gascón for not having reached a determination yet on whether to file criminal charges against either of the officers.

Saying the DA has made police accountability “a top priority,” Gascón Special Advisor Alex Bastian told us Wednesday that prosecutors “take these cases very seriously and conduct a complete and thorough review as expeditiously as possible, based on the totality of the evidence.”

Gascón expressed “concerns” in a Sept. 2020 open letter about whether the deputies needed to start shooting at Twyman.

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Twyman’s family sued the county, which agreed in Nov. 2020 to pay $3.9 million to settle the case.

A Deadly Encounter In A Parking Lot

The controversial shooting unfolded on June 6, 2019 when the two deputies approached the 24-year-old Twyman as he sat in his car with another person in an apartment complex parking lot in Willowbrook.

The Sheriff's Department said deputies had been looking for Twyman after a search of his residence uncovered weapons. He was on felony probation at the time of his death. The deputies had gotten a tip that Twyman might be in the parking lot, according to the department.

A video released by the Sheriff’s Department shows one of the deputies, described in the video as the "passenger deputy," opening the right back door of the car, a Kia Forte. At that point, Commander April Tardy, who narrates the video, says Tywman started the car's engine and the "driver deputy" approached the driver's door of the Kia and tried to open it.

"The Kia's reverse lights illuminated and Mr. Twyman accelerated the vehicle in reverse as Mr. Tywman turned in a counter clockwise direction toward the deputy on the passenger side," Tardy says as the video shows still images of the scene. "As the Kia reversed, the passenger deputy is struck with the open rear passenger door and pushed into the center of the parking lot."

Tardy says that deputy was trying to maintain his balance and "avoid being run over." In the video, he remains standing and firing his weapon. The "driver deputy" goes back to the patrol car and returns with a rifle.

As the deputies fire repeatedly, the Kia continues in reverse before hitting a pole. The car does not come close to either deputy again.

Flashes from the gun of the "driver deputy" can be seen in the still images while his partner is still behind the open rear passenger door. Tardy said the deputies fired approximately 34 rounds "in order to stop the vehicle from seriously injuring the passenger deputy."

Twyman was unarmed. He was hit multiple times in the upper torso and died at the scene. The passenger was uninjured.

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In questioning the decision to open fire in his open letter, Gascón argued the deputies "were able to get out of the path of the vehicle as it was reversing."

A Violation Of Policy

The DA added that, in any case, department policy states that "the moving vehicle itself shall not presumptively constitute a threat that justifies the use of deadly force." The department prohibits shooting at a moving car unless another weapon is present.

That policy, adopted in 2016, followed a KPCC investigation that found deputies shot into moving vehicles at least nine times between 2010 and 2014. In only one case did deputies say the suspect was armed.

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