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Criminal Justice

2 Torrance Police Officers Indicted in 2018 Fatal Shooting. The Previous DA Had Cleared Them Of Wrongdoing

A Torrance police care, motorcycle and armored car are parked outside the Torrance Police Department building.
The Torrance Police Department headquarters.
(Courtesy Torrance Police Department)
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A grand jury has indicted two Torrance police officers in the fatal shooting of Christopher Deandre Mitchell in 2018, according to a source familiar with the case who declined to specify the charges because the indictment is sealed.

In an extraordinary move, District Attorney George Gascón had sought the indictment after former DA Jackie Lacey determined the shooting was legally justified.

The backstory

Torrance Police Officers Matthew Concannon and Anthony Chavez had pulled over Mitchell, 23, for allegedly driving a stolen car. In declining to charge them, Lacey’s office said Mitchell would not get out of the car and the officers opened fire after Concannon saw Mitchell move his hands toward a gun in his lap. It was an air rifle.

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The DA's office acknowledged Mitchell never grabbed the air rifle nor pointed it at the officers.

Why it matters

Gascón is filing charges against officers involved in shootings or in-custody deaths at a far higher rate than his predecessors. There are now charges against 15 people. In the 20 years before Gascón took office, only two officers faced charges.

Just this week, he announced assault charges against two former Whittier police detectives who shot an unarmed man in 2020, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.

Last month, Gascón charged a California Highway Patrol sergeant and six CHP officers with involuntary manslaughter in the 2020 death of Edward Bronstein, who had been pulled over for a suspected DUI.

What’s next

The indictment will be unsealed on Monday.

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