Unarmed Man Shot In The Head By LAPD Now Facing Eviction [Graphic]
Walter DeLeon was shot in the head by an LAPD officer who thought he was armed when he was only carrying a towel and a water bottle. Now, DeLeon is blind in one eye and needs constant care, and his family is on the verge of eviction. Walter DeLeon, a 49-year-old former handyman, was shot on June 19 at around 6:30 p.m. while attempting to flag down a police cruiser that was stuck in traffic in Los Feliz in Griffith Park. His arm was wrapped in a towel, and the LAPD said officers thought he was hiding a gun under the towel. Officers exited the car and ordered him to drop the gun, which he didn't have, and then shot him in the head when he didn't lower his arm. He miraculously survived, but now, his family has set up an online account to help him pay for his mounting medical bills and care. According to the GiveForward page:
Walter needs constant care taking around the clock by his sister Yovanna who is now unable to work to support herself and her family, as well as care for Walter full-time through his recovery. The DeLeons really need a little help getting through this shocking ordeal. The situation they are in is completely unfair and beyond them.
After the shooting, DeLeon spent two weeks in a coma, had nine surgeries and underwent extensive rehabilitation. He is now blind in one eye with blurred vision in the other, deaf in one ear, and has a hole in his skull. He cannot feed or dress himself, and requires help to go to the bathroom. His sister, Yovanna De Leon, had to quit her job as a social worker to care for him. She told KPCC, "It's inhumane what happened to my brother." What's worse, the family is on the verge of eviction.
The officers involved in the shooting have both been put on administrative duties in the meantime, and there will be at least another three months of investigation. The officer who shot DeLeon was identified as Cairo Palacios.
DeLeon's mother told ABC 7 that she wants to share the gruesome images of what her son looks like now. DeLeon told ABC 7 said he wants "some type of change in the police force."
DeLeon can't understand what happened that day, and he remembers very little. He knows that he was holding a towel to wipe his sweat as he went on a walk on the warm summer day, and he knows he had a bottle of water. He remembers approaching the police.
"I needed help and I was going to ask the police something and I had the towel to dry my forehead," he recalls. But as far as what he needed or wanted to ask, DeLeon can't remember. "How threatening can I be toward them with a bottle of water and a towel?"
"It's like, wait a minute, it's like shoot first and then ask questions later," De Leon continued. "Oh, he's dead, he is not going to say anything. That is the model? That's what they call 'to protect and serve?' Come on."
DeLeon is being represented by attorney Mark Geragos, who said that DeLeon was "nowhere near these cops. He was not doing anything provocative."
In spite of his anger, DeLeon also expresses surprising empathy for the officers who maimed him saying it's a tough job that he wouldn't want to do. However, he said officers should be properly trained to make the right decisions and ask for additional training if they need it.
A video of the shooting's aftermath showed officers rolling DeLeon over and handcuffing him, despite the fact that he had just been shot in the head. The department said this was standard protocol.
Writer Dan Harmon (Community, Rick & Morty) posted about DeLeon on Twitter, raising a good point about how DeLeon's family is struggling to pay their rent, but the officers that shot him aren't.