Los Angeles, CA – Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has released bodycam and surveillance video from a standoff in Van Nuys that ended after officers fatally shot the hostage while they were trying to hit the man who was holding her.
Officers were called to the homeless shelter at the Central Lutheran Church on June 16 for a domestic incident that involved a man who allegedly stabbed his ex-girlfriend with a knife, the Associated Press reported.
The videos showed that when responding officers arrived, 32-year-old documented gang member Guillermo Perez was holding a large knife and carrying a metal folding chair.
LAPD officers tried to de-escalate the situation by telling Perez to drop the knife, but he ignored their commands and kept moving, the video showed.
At that point, LAPD Chief Michel Moore said officers shot less-lethal bean bag rounds at Perez, KABC reported.
The video showed Perez used the chair to deflect the bean bag rounds as he moved closer to 49-year-old Elizabeth Tollison, who was standing against the building leaning on her walker.
Perez grabbed Tollison and took her hostage just a few seconds later, the video showed.
“He moved away from officers and grabbed an innocent bystander who was standing nearby. Perez began to cut the innocent bystander’s throat with a knife. That’s when three officers shot at Perez to stop his actions and prevent him from killing the hostage,” Chief Moore told reporters at a press conference.
Officers fired 18 rounds at Perez, the chief said. Perez was fatally shot, but the hostage was also killed in the process.
Chief Moore said Tollison was struck twice by officers’ bullets and died later at the hospital, according to KABC.
LAPD identified Officers Eugene Damiano, Andrew Trock, and Cristian Bonilla as having fired their weapons during the incident, the Los Angeles Times reported. All three have been placed on administrative leave while the department investigates, as is protocol for all officer-involved shootings.
Chief Moore said the officers had been forced to make a split-second decision.
“My heart goes out to this victim’s family. And I also feel for the officers who were involved in this as their lives will be forever changed,” the chief said.
Chief Moore expressed concern at the press conference about several trends in LAPD officer-involved shootings.
The average number of officers involved per shooting, the number of rounds fired by officers, and the number of shootings involving weapons other than firearms have all increased, the chief said.
Less-lethal weapons, such as the bean bags that failed to stop Perez, have also proven to be less effective than originally thought.
Chief Moore said he was going to add a new less lethal weapon to the department’s arsenal – a 40-millimeter rifle that shoots large foam rounds intended to disable a suspect, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“It’s essentially a device that launches a larger foam baton round than our current bean bag shotgun. It increases the potential of stopping a dangerous suspect,” he explained to reporters.
The police chief pointed out that it had been 13 years since a bystander had been killed by LAPD before the two most recent incidents.
“It’s been 13 years since an officer’s gunfire has killed an innocent bystander or hostage in this department. In the last six weeks, it’s happened twice,” Chief Moore said.
A Trader Joe’s assistant manager was killed by police gunfire in July when LAPD officers got into a gun battle with a suspect in front of a store.
You can see the bodycam footage HERE. NOTE: The link with video itself has been banned by Facebook and so the video had to be omitted from this copy so Facebook would allow it. Other news organizations such as the LA Times have posted the same video without having their articles banned.