STORY ABOUT DEVIN BROWN
VARY SAD STORY FROM LOS ANGELES
VARY SAD STORY FROM LOS ANGELES
Los Angeles Police Department officials on Wednesday presented an unusually detailed account of last weekend's police shooting of a 13-year-old boy, as officials sought to refute what Chief William J. Bratton called "rumors" that people "are trying to spread."
Bratton and one of his top deputies offered their account of the physical evidence gathered in the shooting of Devin Brown, an African American youth who was killed after a brief high-speed pursuit in South Los Angeles shortly before 4 a.m. Sunday.
The briefing, which was carried live on several local television news programs, included a laser-produced reenactment of the collision between the car Devin was in and a police cruiser, pictures of skid marks used to estimate the speed of his car and a recording of the police officer's call at the start of the pursuit.
Bratton called the presentation an "attempt to give you some sense of what we believe happened at the intersection of Western and 83rd," where the teen was shot.
Deputy Chief Michael Berkow then detailed the physical evidence. Although at the start of his presentation, Berkow noted that the information was preliminary and could change, his description was peppered with words such as "scientific" and "definitive," which seemed designed to stress the reliability of the police findings.
The briefing was a notable break from the secrecy that traditionally has shrouded LAPD investigations of shootings by police. The chief also announced that he had invited the FBI to join the probe.
The shooting has become a racially charged incident, with some African American community leaders calling it an example of the heavy-handed and brutal treatment of young black males by police.
Despite Bratton's high-tech presentation Wednesday, the briefing added few new details to the original police account. It differed on several points from versions of the incident that have been offered by some relatives of Devin's as well as community activists.
For example, Brandon Washington, a relative who has identified himself as a spokesman for the family, said in interviews that Devin and another boy were returning home from a sleepover. The car belonged to a cousin of the other boy,
Bratton, by contrast, said repeatedly that "that car was stolen."
He also denied allegations by
"During those four minutes, he was driving the vehicle," Bratton said. "During the other four hours [the car was missing], what was going on with the vehicle that information we'd like to have."
In his description of the shooting itself, the chief estimated that "the whole scenario took about six seconds," from the time the maroon Toyota Camry collided with the patrol car to the time shots were fired.
Police officials say the incident began earlier in the evening, when the Camry was stolen from in front of an apartment building in the 2100 block of
At , Officer Steve Garcia, who would shoot Devin roughly four minutes later, first saw the Camry at the intersection of Grand and Gage avenues. He and his partner, Officer Dana Grant, both of the
The officers radioed a report of a suspected drunk driver. A recording of the call, with sirens audible in the background, was played at Wednesday's news conference.
The officers then pursued the Camry, which ran up onto the curb at
Then, with Grant and Garcia's patrol car stopped behind it, the Camry moved back 21 feet, striking the police vehicle, Berkow said. The car went back an additional 18 feet leaving paint marks from its driver's side mirror on the trunk of the patrol car before rolling forward to a final stop nearly side by side with the patrol car, according to Berkow.
Berkow would not say precisely when the shots were fired. But at , a call was made from a patrol car from the neighboring
As they were broadcasting the accident, Bratton said, there was a "very slight hesitation and then reports of shots fired."
An ambulance was requested at police said.
Bratton said Devin's body was found in the driver's seat. A 14-year-old who fled from the front passenger's door on foot was arrested near the scene.
Devin's autopsy report is not being released, at police request, pending the investigation,
Berkow and Bratton refused to answer questions about witness or officer statements, citing confidentiality concerns. They said that Garcia was out of the vehicle at the time he fired 10 rounds, but they would not comment on where he was standing or where Grant was at the time of the shooting.
As police detailed their account of the incident, family members offered a fuller portrait of Devin, describing him as a mama's boy whose life was upended last year by his father's death from a respiratory ailment.
The boy went into a tailspin when his father died, said Washington, who said he was a cousin. "He took it the way any young child might."
The night of the shooting, Devin was sleeping over at a friend's house,
Devin was a "go-with-the-flow" kind of boy,
Teachers said Devin, an eighth-grade student at
"Devin was a nervous, little kid; if he thought something was too much for him, he wouldn't do it,"
This year, for the first time, Devin's mother had agreed that her boy could play Pop Warner football. She was concerned that he might get hurt,
Devin was close to his parents,
Since the father's death, family members had noticed that Devin had been staying out longer and getting in trouble at school for talking and missing some classes. He also had more time on his own.
Teachers say that Devin was respectful but not an enthusiastic student. Like some boys in his classes, Devin was more interested in girls and sports than academics, they said.
Last year, one of his favorite movies was "Remember the Titans," about high school football and discrimination. He could recite passages by Rev, a quarterback who gets hurt.
His memory of the movie was so good that his history teacher, Brenda Bright, began calling him "Rev." Bright called Devin one of her favorite students. "There was a sweetness about him," she said. "I saw an innocence and a sweetheart."
This year, Devin continued to have a problem applying himself in school and sometimes missed classes, teachers said. His favorite subject was history, but he missed a month of classes, said Bryan Johnson, another history teacher.
Since Christmas, however, Johnson said that Devin had gotten back on track and had begun attending classes more regularly.
Johnson's first impression of Devin was that he was "a handful," because he was funny and could disrupt the class with his uncannily accurate imitations. In one recent class, Johnson remembered, Devin, who had just gotten a new cellphone, had classmates howling with his imitation of a cellphone ad.
It was humorous, Johnson said, but as a result his teacher kicked him out of class. Johnson said he worried about the crowd that Devin was hanging around with.
Cleo Pierce had the same concern. Pierce, who once lived next door to the Brown family, remembered how the boy and his sister played on her porch. Pierce said she thought Devin had started hanging out with different people after his father died.
"When his father was living, they would hang out every day after school," she said. "He hadn't done that since. He just got with the wrong crowd.
LAPD Speeds Policy on Shots at Vehicles
Bratton vows to draw up new rules by next week .Protests continue following the fatal shooting of a 13-year-old driver in
A day after saying that a new policy to limit police shootings into moving vehicles would take up to 45 more days to complete, Police Chief William J. Bratton abruptly promised, amid growing protests Tuesday, to release the policy next week.
Bratton had first called for a policy change a year ago. His decision to move faster came as he, Mayor James K. Hahn and other city officials struggled to respond to protests over the fatal shooting of Devin Brown.
The 13 year old African American boy was shot repeatedly by a Los Angeles Police Department officer around Sunday after he led police on a short pursuit that ended, authorities say, when he tried to back into a police cruiser.
At an emotion filled meeting of the Police Commission, a march and vigil near the scene of the shooting in South Los Angeles and a forum at a neighboring church, community activists, pastors and others decried the shooting as the latest example of what they called a pattern of LAPD abuse of black Angelenos.
"People are tired of our children being gunned down like dogs. They could have pointed a flashlight on him," said the Rev. Ozell Clifford Brazil, associate minister of
Devin was killed less than a week after prosecutors decided not to file criminal charges against an LAPD officer who was captured on videotape last June as he hit a black man, Stanley Miller, with a heavy aluminum flashlight. That decision also was condemned by African American leaders, and the back-to-back incidents heightened tensions.
"The community, unlike police, view these incidents collectively. They view it that nothing has changed," Councilman Bernard C. Parks, the former police chief who is running against Hahn for mayor, said at the vigil near the shooting scene.
"That's why you get the anger. At some point, it boils. And if you're not there right now, you're getting close," he said.
Parks spoke a few hours after Hahn called a news conference to demand that the LAPD change its shooting policy "immediately."
The statements by the two underscore how the shooting could emerge as a political issue with the election for mayor four weeks away.
Hahn is struggling to win support from black voters who backed his campaign heavily in 2001. Parks appears to have siphoned off much of that support. Early in his term as mayor, Hahn refused to support Parks' bid for a second term as police chief and then chose Bratton to replace him.
Bratton's apparent success in reducing crime rates, which have dropped 16% since Hahn's election, has been a centerpiece of Hahn's reelection effort.
For Hahn, the controversy over the shooting threatens not only to hurt him further among a key constituency but also to detract from the LAPD's improved image among most voters since Bratton became chief.
In a Times Poll released last week, before the shooting, 68% of registered voters citywide said they approved of the department. That was one of the highest approval ratings for the LAPD in recent years.
Black residents have been a major exception. In the poll, only 40% of black voters said they approved of the LAPD; more than half said they disapproved. The gap between the department's approval rate among black and non-black voters was the largest in more than a decade of polling.
According to police, Officer Steve Garcia and his partner were on routine patrol early Sunday morning near Gage and Grand avenues when they saw a maroon
The officers followed the car onto the Harbor Freeway and tried to pull the driver over.
A three-minute chase ended when the driver left the freeway, lost control of the
A passenger fled. Police said that Devin, who was driving, then backed into the right side of the officers' car, and Garcia fired 10 times, killing the boy.
Officers said they believed they were pursuing a drunk driver and didn't know the driver was 13. The other passenger, who is 14, was apprehended.
The district attorney's office is investigating the incident, as it does all officer-involved shootings.
Garcia's actions reopened the debate over the LAPD's policy on officers shooting at moving vehicles. A year ago, after police officers shot and killed a car-chase suspect in
But since then, no new policy has been issued. On Monday, Bratton said in an interview that he had tightened the rules governing when officers can initiate a pursuit.
He said officers are being trained to use spike strips that puncture tires and immobilize fleeing vehicles as well as being taught to use their vehicles to contact fleeing vehicles to make them spin to a halt.
He has also set up a new LAPD unit to investigate shootings. A policy governing officers' use of deadly force when suspects are in moving vehicles was the final piece of the puzzle, he said.
LAPD officers are now allowed to use deadly force to protect themselves or others from the immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury.
The public pressure on Bratton to move faster began early Tuesday at a meeting of the Police Commission, when Commissioner Rick Caruso urged the chief to complete the rules more quickly, even if that would require writing interim rules immediately.
After the meeting, however, Bratton warned that drafting the language was a complex task that would take some time to complete.
A few hours later, at , Hahn called a news conference at the 77th Division police station and said the LAPD should change the policy.
"I'm asking them to move more swiftly here," Hahn said. "We should have had this policy developed. I'm not going to accept any excuses on why we need to wait any longer . We need to make sure this doesn't happen again."
By late afternoon, Bratton aides said the policy would be ready by the Police Commission's next scheduled meeting on Tuesday.
While not directly criticizing Garcia or his tactics, several police commissioners told community activists who spoke at Tuesday's meeting that they were deeply troubled by what happened.
"It's almost inconceivable to lose a child under these circumstances, said Caruso. So, to the African American community and to all of
Caruso said also that the officer never intended, obviously, to kill a child.
Commission President David Cunningham III said he visited the scene of the shooting Sunday. "My pain is only tempered by my anger," he said.
Rev. Andrew Robinson Gaither of Faith United Methodist Church, one of several black ministers who spoke at the commission meeting, said he was outraged that the Police Department does not value black life.
Later in the afternoon, similar sentiments could be heard at
At , the crowd started marching north on Western toward
This young man was an honor student, Gaither told the crowd. The car he was driving was not reported as stolen.
But although some activists were highly critical of the LAPD, others offered a more ambivalent view.
Joe Hicks, a longtime civil rights activist, said the LAPD had made progress since the widely publicized beating of Rodney King in 1991. Hicks said he was concerned that some black leaders he wouldn't say which ones have been making rash statements, criticizing the Police Department before learning all of the facts.
"Are we actually, in 2005, looking at an LAPD that is virtually unchanged, despite two black police chiefs and despite Bratton, who's been brought in and done back flips, almost, to try to be sensitive and on point on this? Are we really saying nothing has changed in all these years? That'd be hard to imagine."
Rev. Leonard B. Jackson, an associate minister at First AME Church, also said the LAPD has made some progress. But he said Sunday's shooting is the latest of several incidents that have chilled relations between African Americans and police. He cited the beating of Miller and the recent failure of prosecutors to win convictions against two
"It takes less momentum to turn that clock back,"
At the Tuesday meeting at
Audience member Deborah Anderson, 37, said she attended the meeting to "support the family of the boy who was murdered. I think it was a wrongful death by the Police Department . Children tend to be mischievous, but they shouldn't have to die."
"Children do stuff like that all the time. The Police Department should have better strategies to deal with these incidents," she said.
Anderson's mother, Barbara Wheeler, 58, said she had never taken part in this type of community event, but "I think enough is enough."
She said that hearing the boy was only 13 "made it close to home." She has nine grandchildren, all around the boy's age, she said, adding, "I know the child had no business being out at that time, but as a child I was out at that time. He did not deserve to be shot up 10 times."
Before the meeting, Bob Baker, president of the
But he said the community should not rush to judgment.
"Few people fully understand what it's like to have to make a split-second decision on which one's life or someone else in the community may depend when someone takes a hostile action against a police officer or suddenly points a weapon at you. This is a reality that police officers face every day," Baker said.
Officer Is Sure of His Actions
Two weeks ago,
Today, as the officer who fatally shot 13-year-old Devin Brown, he is a man at the center of a storm.
In brief comments to a Times reporter outside his home, Garcia, 31, declined to discuss details of the shooting, but said he was "confident" of his actions.
"Nobody wanted this to happen, on both sides," he said. "I will say that. It's the last thing in the world that I wanted to happen."
Since the shooting, Garcia has been placed on desk duty
The reversal of fortunes seemed to have taken its toll on the nine-year veteran.
He said he feared for the safety of himself, his family and fellow officers.
He said he had heard that officers in the 77th Division have received death threats from people who say they plan to follow officers home. And, he was aware that the shooting has become a racially tinged incident.
"The truth will come out," he said.
Co-workers described Garcia as a hard-working, reliable officer. "He is one of the officers that I seek out if there's some work to be done," said Det. Jim Vena, who has worked with Garcia at crime scenes. "Steve has always been a very conscientious, professional police officer."
Police kill Driver 13 at end of Chase
Los Angeles Police Department officials did not release the names of the suspect or officer involved in the shooting, which occurred shortly before at
A number of other details about the case were not made public as the LAPD internal affairs unit began its investigation into whether the officer's actions were in line with department policy. Police did say that the officer fired 10 shots into the car. Deputy Chief Michael Berkow said the suspect was not armed.
The boy had refused to pull over when confronted by officers who thought they had come across a drunk driver, police said. That prompted a three-minute chase through
A 14-year-old passenger jumped out of the car before the shooting and tried to run away. He was arrested on suspicion of grand theft auto.
The slaying occurred nearly a year after LAPD officers fatally shot another fleeing motorist as he backed his car toward police at the end of a widely televised, 90-minute chase. That incident, which occurred near
Bratton said that a new policy should prohibit officers from shooting at people in vehicles "unless the officer or other person are threatened by deadly force, other than the moving vehicle."
A proposal to tighten the policy has been formulated since then but has not been considered for adoption by the Police Commission. David Cunningham, the commission's president, said the group probably would decide whether to adopt the change in the next 30 days.
Bratton could not be reached for comment Sunday. But LAPD Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell said the proposal would make exceptions for officers whose lives were threatened by a suspect's car.
Cunningham visited the site of the shooting Sunday afternoon, and said the police cruiser was badly dented and scratched, apparently from the impact of the stolen car.
Cunningham was reluctant to comment on a case under investigation, since he said it was the commission that ultimately would determine whether the shooting was justified.
"It's a tough one," he said. "I think what does make it truly a tragedy is that the decedent is so young."
In a news release, police gave an account of the pursuit and confrontation.
Two officers in a patrol car first noticed the
They followed the car for more than three miles until it skidded onto the curbside at
After the passenger jumped out of the
HE DONT HAVE A GUN DON'T KILLED ANY COP'S ARE ANY OTHER PEOPLE ARE KID'S
BUT HE GONE THAT'S WANT HATE IS ALL ABOUT THIS NEED'S TO STOP
HE WAS JUST A KID NO GUN ON HEM RIGHT HE DON'T KILLED ANY BODY WITH THE CAR WANT HAPPY HERE . MORN UP DATE'S COMEING SOON .