A story for every victim

Adrian Simental, 24

Adrian Simental, a 24-year-old Latino, was shot and killed by a police officer Sunday, June 21, in the 500 block of East Lee Drive in Azusa, according to Los Angeles County coroner’s records. 

The incident began at 12:52 p.m., when Simental’s family called the Azusa Police Department to report that he was acting bizarrely and had injured himself, said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Det. Holly Francisco.

A short while later, the police received another report that Simental was breaking into the neighbor’s house next door. He broke out several windows, Francisco said, and entered the house through one of the windows. 

Neighbors also reported hearing a female screaming inside the house, Francisco said. 

One Azusa officer entered the house and found Simental at the back door, Francisco said, “and then the officer-involved shooting happened.” 

Simental was taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead at 1:38 p.m., according to coroner’s records. 

As it turned out, Francisco said, no one was in the home but Simental. “We don’t know what the screaming was,” she said. “It might have been him, but we really don’t know.”

At least two neighbors have said on television reports that they saw Simental in the backyard screaming, “Shoot me, shoot me!” before he was shot multiple times by the officer.

“Those are obviously witness statements,” Francisco said, “but I’m not putting that out there. We won’t know until the interview why the officer decided to fire on him.” 

The officer has not been identified. Francisco said he has been with the Azusa Police Department about eight years. 

Investigators did not find a gun by Simental after he was shot, Francisco said. There were tools near where he fell, she said, but sheriff’s investigators don’t know what, if any, role they played in the shooting. 

The Sheriff’s Department investigates all homicides for the Azusa Police Department, including officer-involved shootings. Francisco said her investigators have not been able to interview the Azusa officer yet, so they don’t yet know what happened when he went inside.

East Lee Drive is a tree-lined street with small, well-kept houses, just a couple blocks away from Azusa High School. The street was quiet the morning of June 23, except for the hum of the equipment cleaning inside the house where Simental was shot. The owners have moved into a motel until the house has been cleaned and repaired, one of the workers said. 

Drops and smears of dried blood created a spotty trail from the house where Simental lived to the fence of the house next door, where he died. Family members politely turned down requests for an interview, but later that evening, Simental's sister, Jossie, texted information about the Adrian Simental Memorial Funeral Fund .

Jossie Simental also provided a photo of her brother with long hair, the way he always wore it until very recently, when he cut it short. 

"My brother attended East L.A. Community College," Jossie Simental wrote in her text. "He loved playing the drums and playing his favorite sport, soccer. He was always riding his bike and just living his life. He was such a great person. And I want him back so much."

Anyone with information about the incident should contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. Those wishing to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477. 

Jeanette Marantos

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