Los Angeles, CA – That Los Angeles Police Commission handed down a controversial ruling against a female competitive shooter from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) on Tuesday when they determined that the first four shots she fired at an armed man were justified, but not the last two.
The incident occurred on April 22 when officers responded to the scene of a five-car crash at the intersection of 32nd and San Pedro Streets after several people called 911 and reported that the driver who had caused the pileup was trying to stab himself, KNBC reported.
The video showed Officer McBride requested backup and asked about the availability of less-lethal weapons as she tried to stop Hernandez with commands.
Officer McBride repeatedly ordered Hernandez to stay where he was and drop the knife, but he ignored her.
Instead, the video showed he advanced on the officer and she opened fire.
Officer McBride shot Hernandez two times and he dropped to his knees on the pavement.
The video showed Hernandez quickly pushed himself back up again.
Officer McBride shot four more times with short pauses between each shot as Hernandez actively worked to stand back up.
All of her shots struck Hernandez, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The autopsy determined that Hernandez was on methamphetamine and had stabbed his arms in multiple places before the confrontation with Officer McBride.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office investigated the officer-involved shooting and LAPD’s Force Investigation Unit reviewed the incident to determine if Officer McBride’s actions that day violated any department policies, KNBC reported.
The case drew widespread attention because Officer McBride is a social media sensation well-known for her competitive shooting skills.
Officer McBride became a social media influencer after she entered the police academy in 2017 and became “top shot” in her class, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The firearms catalog “The Blue Press” put the rookie officer on its cover and she later joined the team of Taran Tactical Innovations where she participated in filming videos with gun-toting models and actresses shooting against a stopwatch.
Officer McBride made appearances with Keanu Reeves and other celebrities and athletes, and was deemed “#HottestCopEver” by a legion of social media fanboys, the Los Angeles Times reported.
It was a dream-come-true for the little girl who grew up wanting to become a police officer and played dress up in her father’s uniforms.
Her father, Jamie McBride, was an LAPD patrol officer before he became one of nine directors of the police department’s labor union.
Her celebrity and her father’s status have both been used against Officer McBride after she was involved in an officer-involved shooting, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Former Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey recused herself from the investigation and referred it to the California attorney general, citing conflicts of interest because of the large contributions her campaign had received from the police union.
The attorney general’s review of the Hernandez shooting is ongoing, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The police commission’s ruling on Dec. 15 came by a vote of 4-1 and was in line with the investigation conducted by the city’s inspector general.
It followed an emotional virtual hearing during which Hernandez’s family members testified that he was a good man who helped his family carpet business and asked that Officer McBride be disciplined for shooting him, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Hernandez’s oldest sister, Luz, told the commissioner she thought that all of the shots were unjustified and that Officer McBride had “ample time for her to deescalate the situation” or utilize less-lethal weapons.
Luz Hernandez said the latter shots “were even more unjustifiable” and her brother would still be alive if Officer McBride had used better judgment, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“Once on the ground my brother Danny did not pose any imminent threat to her or any other officers on scene,” she claimed. “These shots cannot be justified given that he was immobilized, on the ground and no longer a threat. This was an unjustified murder and it should be prosecuted.”
But Ed Obayashi, a police use-of-force expert, called the Hernandez incident “a clear-cut justified shooting,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
“There is absolutely no doubt in my mind this officer was facing an immediate threat to her life,” Obayashi said after watching the bodycam video.
He said that Hernandez had also presented a threat to the people standing around the area, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“She does what every officer would do and shoots an immediate deadly threat. He could have gone right and left and been in that crowd of onlookers,” Obayashi said. “She didn’t panic.”
He said he thought Officer McBride was being punished for keeping her cool and pausing between shots rather than simply unloading her entire weapon into the suspect, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The commission also found that Officer McBride’s partner on the scene did not engage Hernandez and had not done everything in his power to de-escalate the situation.
Officer McBride had asked about less-lethal weapon options during the incident but the other officer did not provide them, the Los Angeles Times reported.
LAPD Chief Michael Moore, who will ultimately determine the punishments for Officer McBride and her partner that day, said the other officer failed to meet department standards requiring officers to “work together as a team, and work in that team toward resolving risk to themselves and others.”
Chief Moore recommended that all six shots by Officer McBride be ruled justified ahead of the commission hearing, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“I will reflect on this and look back on this investigation again before I make a final decision,” the police chief said after the commissioner handed down its ruling.
Lawyers for Hernandez’s family have complained the police chief is showing favoritism for Officer McBride.
“There is a very significant appearance of impropriety for the chief to be so lenient with the daughter of a very powerful member of the police protective league,” attorney Arnoldo Casillas told the Los Angeles Times. “He hasn’t spoken just yet in terms of the discipline, but the fact that he found no fault in any of the shooting is incredibly disappointing.”
Casillas complained that Officer McBride behaved like the competitive shooter she is when she fire her weapon at Hernandez.
Narine Mkrtchyan, the attorney who filed a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Hernandez’s 15-year-old daughter in June, said that Officer McBride was an inexperienced officer who quickly resorted to lethal force because of her competitive shooting experience.
The suit accused LAPD and the city of “the use of unnecessary, unreasonable and deadly force by…assigning defendant McBride, among others, whom LAPD knew, or who reasonably should have known, to have reckless violent and homicidal propensities to duties which enable such deputies to continue to use unnecessary force,” according to KNBC.
But Officer McBride’s supporters have said she is being singled out because of her sport shooting record, not what actually happened the day she shot Hernandez.