Officer Was Unjustified In Shooting Man Who Tased His Partner, Police Commission Says
The Police Commission, as well as LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, both agree that LAPD Officer Stephan Shuff violated policy when he shot and killed a man who allegedly tased his partner. Shuff and his partner, a female rookie officer whose identity has not been released, were attempting to arrest Neil Peter White, 38, on July 9, 2015. They had received reports shortly before 9 a.m. that morning of a man shattering windows with a skateboard near Wilshire and La Brea Avenue, the L.A. Times reports. When they arrived, they spotted White, who ignored their commands to stop and took off on his skateboard. The officers chased him in their car until he jumped off the skateboard. Then, at Shuff's request, the rookie officer leapt out of the car and ran for the skateboard. Shuff also got out of the car and tackled White, resulting in a struggle, during which the rookie officer took out her Taser and attempted to tase White to no effect. As the struggle continued, she put her Taser down, and White managed to grab it and allegedly used it on her leg. The rookie officer screamed, "He's tasing me!" Shuff pulled out his gun and shot White in the back of the neck, killing him.
Both officers suffered injuries during the scuffle. A burn on the rookie officer's leg was consistent with injury from a Taser, according to a release from the LAPD.
A witness who was out walking his dog at the time told the Times that he saw Shuff reaching for what he thought was a pair of handcuffs, but it turned out to be a gun.
"It was point blank. All hell broke loose," the witness said.
Shuff told investigators that he had been worried that White would take his partner's gun, but the Commission found that was not enough to merit such a use of force. The Commission also placed blame on the tactics used that put the two officers in the situation in the fist place. They said that the rookie officer should have made sure her Taser was secure and that both officers should have waited for the backup they had called before trying to grab White.
Shuff, who has been with the LAPD for nearly a decade, is back on field duties as of this week. Beck will decide what discipline, if any, he receives. Beck does not have to reveal this punishment, or lack thereof, to the public.
Little is known about White. Ed Winters of the L.A. County Coroner's Office told the Beverly Press that White's parents lived in England, and had been difficult to contact.