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Carnell Delone Snell Jr., 18

Carnell Delone Snell Jr. (2016-10-01)

Carnell Snell Jr., an 18-year-old black man, was fatally shot by Los Angeles Police on Saturday, Oct. 1, in the 1700 block of West 107th Street in Westmont, according to Los Angeles County coroner’s records.

About 1 p.m., officers were working near South Western Avenue and 108th Street when they spotted a light blue Nissan with paper plates. The plates didn’t match the year of the car, causing officers to think it may have been stolen, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck told reporters Monday.

As officers watched the car, Snell, sitting in the back seat, looked toward them, then ducked “as if to hide from them,” Beck said.

He said officers started to follow the car, which slowed. As officers activated their lights and sirens, he said, the car slowed more and Snell got out “holding his waistband as if he was supporting something.”

Thinking Snell was holding a gun, the officers chased him, Beck said. During the 200- to 300-yard pursuit, the chief said, the officers saw Snell pull out a gun and hold it in his left hand.

They chased him to a driveway in the 1700 block of West 107th Street, where Snell turned toward them, Beck said, the gun still in his hand. Police opened fire, and Snell died at the scene.

Beck said a .40-caliber handgun was found “no more than 5 feet away” from Snell’s body. The gun was fully loaded, Beck said, indicating it wasn’t fired.

Many residents have questioned the police account, including whether Snell had a gun. Beck acknowledged the anger surrounding the shooting and said he believed some of the reaction has been compounded by other police killings around the country.

“We have all seen police-involved shootings that defy justification in other municipalities. I have seen them where I am at a loss to understand why,” he said. “I think that affects what happens on the streets of Los Angeles.”

After Snell’s death, scores of people gathered near where he was shot. Some shouted profanities at officers. One man complained about police helicopters and sirens keeping him up at night.

Others said they were tired of being repeatedly stopped by officers — “they don’t do that in Beverly Hills,” one man said.

Graffiti covered buildings near the intersection. “Rest well Carnell,” one message read. “LAPD” was written next to his name, the letters crossed out with an X.

On Tuesday, Los Angeles police released a security video that captured part of the chase that preceded the shooting. The video, taken from a nearby business, shows a young man in a blue sweatshirt -- police say it is Snell -- running through a strip mall and behind parked vehicles holding what appears to be a gun in his left hand.

The man then crouches and appears to tuck the handgun into his sweatpants before running away from the camera. Moments later, a police officer is seen running in the man's direction.

Beck acknowledged that not everyone would believe what police say about the shooting, even with the video. But, he said, he believed “significant misinformation” had spread about the shooting of Snell and one a day later, in which 16-year-old Daniel Enrique Perez was killed by an LAPD officer in South L.A. 

“I think that it’s important that we put forward information to clarify so that people can put these events, tragic as they are, in perspective,” he said. “This is not done in any way to denigrate Mr. Snell. This is merely to correct what I think is a faulty public record.”

Melina Abdullah, an organizer with the Black Lives Matter movement, accused the department of trying to “assassinate” Snell’s character after his death and said the recording didn’t answer all questions about the shooting.

The video does not show the moment when officers opened fire and leaves unanswered the critical question of whether Snell turned toward police while armed. “I don’t care if he had a gun,” she said, drawing applause. “Because life matters.”

Photo: Mike Miller, 21, sits amid dozens of candles outside the house where 18-year-old Carnell Snell Jr. was killed by Los Angeles police Oct. 1. Credit: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

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