By Sandy Malone and Holly Matkin
Los Angeles, CA – The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) released bodycam video that showed a SWAT officer being shot in the face by the suspect during an armed standoff (video below).
The incident began at approximately 12:15 p.m. on March 16 when the LAPD received a report about a man firing a rifle into the air in the backyard of a residence located in the 1000-block of West 21st Street, KABC reported.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore said the lot where the gunman was firing the weapon has two separate residences – one in the front of the property and one at the rear, KTLA reported.
The suspect – later identified as 37-year-old Jorge Cerda – was located in the back yard, the chief noted.
Investigators spoke with the occupants in the front residence and discovered they were related to the gunman, KTLA reported.
Chief Moore said Cerda’s family members gave police “varying accounts” regarding whether or not the suspect was using drugs, the condition of his mental health, and how many guns he had access to.
The gunman ended up barricading himself inside the back residence, resulting in a SWAT team being dispatched to the scene.
Other members of the suspect’s family were evacuated from the area, Chief Moore told reporters.
Police attempted to negotiate with Cerda to get him to put down his weapons and come outside, but he refused, KTLA reported.
“We don’t want to come in there,” an officer told Cerda on his sister’s phone in the bodycam video. “We don’t want you to die today.”
They even played recordings of his family members begging him to surrender peacefully, Chief Moore said.
When those attempts failed, the officers resorted to deploying tear gas into the home, KTLA reported.
“After the Crisis Negotiation Team declared an impasse, gas was deployed into the home. As this occurred, the suspect fired, striking one SWAT officer twice,” LAPD officials said in a press release posted on March 28.
The bodycam showed two SWAT officers armed with a variety of less-lethal weapons staged behind a building adjacent to the driveway.
Then the suspect suddenly fired a round and struck LAPD Officer Rodney Williams in his ballistic vest, the video showed.
Officer Williams told his partner that he was fine and didn’t need to change places, the video showed.
LAPD deployed more gas at the suspect a moment later and bodycam video showed Cerda responded by coming out of the house and opening fire on the officers situated outside, according to the chief.
Officer Williams was shot in the face, the bodycam showed.
He fell backwards onto the pavement and his head and face were bleeding.
Bodycam video showed the other officer grabbed Officer Williams and dragged him away from the gunfire to safety.
Meanwhile, another SWAT officer who had been stationed in an upstairs window of the home, above the driveway, opened fire on Cerda when he stepped far enough out of the house, the video showed.
Cerda was shot multiple times during the exchange of gunfire and died at the scene.
Bodycam video showed the when Cerda fell to the pavement after he was shot, he landed on top of a loaded shotgun.
Police said Cerda was also in possession of a loaded pistol that was an untraceable “ghost gun” made without a serial number, KTLA reported.
The shotgun was stolen, according to LAPD.
Officer Williams, a 17-year veteran of the force, was rushed to a local hospital for treatment and survived his wounds, KTLA reported.
He has since been released from the hospital and Chief Moore said he was “grateful to be alive.”
“I am thankful for the SWAT officers that risked their life in rescuing him and getting him immediate medical attention,” Chief Moore told reporters. “And I’m also grateful that there was no other further loss of life in this ordeal.”
Watch the incident unfold in the video below. WARNING – Graphic Content and Obscene Language: