Los Angeles, CA – Los Angeles County coroner’s officials on Friday announced they had launched an inquest into the deputy-involved fatal shooting of 25-year-old Fred Williams in October.
The inquest is only the second to be held in 30 years, KTLA reported.
The coroner kicked off the first inquest on Nov. 30 into the death of 18-year-old Andres Guardado at the hands of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, KCBS reported.
“As with the previous inquest, this proceeding supports the department’s mission and purpose to provide independent, evidence-based death investigations, addresses the public’s interest in the death, and is in accord with a motion approved by the Board of Supervisors on Oct. 27, 2020,” the Los Angeles County Department of the Medical Examiner-Coroner said in a press release.
The release said that retired Justice Candace Cooper had been appointed the hearing officer, again, and would administer the inquest on Jan. 28.
The incident occurred at about 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 16 in the area of 121st Street and Willowbrook Avenue in Mona Park, the Press-Telegram reported.
Deputies were on patrol when they encountered a group of 10 to 15 people parking lot.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy James Nagao said one of the men in the group was holding a gun, the Press-Telegram reported.
Deputy Nagao said the suspect spotted the deputies and fled on foot.
A deputy chased the suspect – later identified as Williams – down a driveway into a backyard, the Press-Telegram reported.
Bodycam video of the incident showed Williams running away from police while clutching something on the right side of his waist.
There is a child in the backyard of the home in the video but adults quickly pulled them inside, the Press-Telegram reported.
The suspect climbed onto the roof of a shed in an effort to get over the back fence and out of the yard.
Bodycam video showed he was holding a black handgun.
Deputy Nagao said Williams “engaged the deputy by pointing his firearm at [the deputy],” the Press-Telegram reported.
The deputy opened fire and shot Williams.
The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene, the Press-Telegram reported.
Deputy Nagao said detectives recovered a semi-automatic handgun.
No deputies were injured during the incident, the Press-Telegram reported.
A series of protests erupted after Williams was shot, LA Focus reported.
“We all know what’s going on in these streets. We’ve been watching it on the news every day. It’s coldblooded. They murdered my son. I can’t fathom the words to explain it other than it’s heartbreaking,” Williams’ father said.
Cliff Smith, an organizer with the Coalition for Community Control Over the Police, called on outgoing Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey in November to charge the deputy who shot Williams “just as any [civilian] would’ve been charged for shooting someone in the back,” LA Focus reported.
“We have no confidence in Jackie Lacey, and we have no confidence in the criminal justice system. But it is our job to organize and bring pressure on the system to the extent that we get justice,” Smith said.
Activists have called on Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva to release the name of the deputy who shot Williams and protested in front of the sheriff’s home, the Los Angeles Patch reported.
“Sheriff Villanueva ran his campaign on the promise of transparency, however he is still concealing the identities of his deputies involved in the murders of two men from our community, Dijon Kizzee and Fred Williams,” Smith said.
“We are demanding that Sheriff Villanueva fulfill his transparency promises of his campaign and stop concealing the identities of his deputies,” he told the Los Angeles Patch.
Sheriff Villanueva said he hasn’t released the names in several recent deputy-involved shooting cases because it “would pose a significant danger to the safety of the deputies.”