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Nicholas Robertson, 28

Nicholas Robertson (2015-12-12)

Nicholas Robertson, a 28-year-old black man, was shot and killed by deputies Saturday, Dec. 12, at 12131 South Long Beach Boulevard in Lynwood, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department homicide investigators. 

The incident started about 10:53 a.m. when the department began receiving 911 calls about a black man yelling and shooting a gun into the air near the corner of Alpine Avenue and Palm Avenue, said Lt. Eddie Hernandez. 

The man, later identified as Robertson, continued walking north and then east, with reports coming in about him at Carlin Avenue and North Santa Fe Avenue, before two deputies confronted him about two blocks away, at an Arco Station on South Long Beach Boulevard, near Magnolia Avenue. 

The deputies gave Robertson “multiple commands to drop his gun,” Hernandez said.

Robertson kept his gun, however, and appeared to walk away from the deputies, waving them off, The Times reported. When Robertson did not drop his gun, one deputy opened fire and the other joined in.

An amateur video of the shooting from across the street shows the deputies continuing to shoot at Robertson after he fell to the ground and seemed to be crawling away. In all, one deputy shot 17 times and the second shot 16 times, The Times reported. 

In response to outcry about the shootings, the sheriff’s department released additional photos and surveillance video shot from another angle that showed Robertson still gripping a handgun, even as he was crawling. 

Robertson, a married father of three, was pronounced dead at the scene about 11 a.m., Hernandez said. The department has put a so-called security hold on the case, meaning the coroner cannot release the autopsy results until the department removes the hold. 

Investigators are “trying to control the flow of information so we don’t have a bunch of entities commenting on the investigation,” Hernandez said. “We know for a fact there are other witnesses out there that we’re still trying to track down, and if the coroner’s notes are released, it could skew their perception on what they saw or think they saw.”

Hernandez said investigators interviewed seven witnesses the day of the shooting and are using images from surveillance cameras in the area to try to identify additional witnesses. 

The autopsy was completed Dec. 16, Hernandez said, “and it’s obvious (the cause of death) is gunshots.” But the toxicology results, to determine whether Robertson had drugs or alcohol in his system, could take between nine weeks and four months, he said. 

“We’ve had many accounts of this individual yelling and screaming profanities while shooting into the air, and our surveillance video shows him very animated, yelling and screaming not at anyone in particular, so we want to try to find out what was happening with him,” Hernandez said.  

The two deputies involved in the shooting have not yet been identified. 

Robertson’s wife, Nekesha Robertson, said her husband was a family man, deeply devoted to the couple's 6-year-old twins and 7-year-old daughter. 

"Any time you see him, you see him with the kids," she said. "He'd take them to and from school. Help them with homework. He's a daddy — that's his job. He didn't do nothing else."

When her husband was killed, she said she had been on her way to find him, after a relative called to say he had been drinking. "He drinks. That's the only thing he's ever been in jail for," she told The Times. 

Other family members and friends questions why deputies continued to shoot at Robertson after he fell. 

"Even if they want to say he had a gun, he never brandished it at you all.... They never showed him directly pointing the gun at the police," said Monica Reddix, a cousin. 

Having a gun "didn't give them a right to kill him the way you all killed him,” Reddix said. “Why didn't you all use less-lethal force?"

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. Those wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.

Contact the Homicide Report. Follow @latimeshomicide on Twitter.

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