Eight Sheriff's Department deputies identified in fatal police shootings
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has released the names of eight deputies who shot and killed four men in four separate incidents between Dec. 12, 2015, and Feb. 14, 2016.
The following cases are being investigated by the sheriff's Homicide Bureau:
Nicolas Robertson, a 28-year-old black man, was shot and killed Dec. 12 in Lynwood by Century Station Deputies Jasen Tapia and Richard Ochoa-Garcia. Tapia joined the department in April 2007 and Ochoa-Garcia was hired in July 2007.
Robertson was allegedly yelling and shooting a gun into the air near the corner of Alpine Avenue and Palm Avenue. He was confronted by the two deputies at an Arco Station at 12131 S. Long Beach Blvd. near Magnolia Avenue.
Robertson, a married father of three, allegedly ignored multiple commands to drop his gun and the deputies opened fire.
An amateur video of the shooting shows deputies continuing to shoot after Robertson fell to the ground and seemed to be crawling away. Surveillance video from another angle showed that Robertson was still holding his gun, even though he was crawling. Based on the amateur video, it appears one deputy shot 17 times and the second shot 16 times, The Times reported.
Miguel Hernandez, a 39-year-old Latino, was shot and killed Jan. 14 by Santa Clarita Valley Station Deputy Nathan Gillespie, who was hired by the department in June 2006.
Hernandez was pulled over by deputies at Shangri-La Drive and Nathan Hills Drive in Santa Clarita because he was driving a white Lexus that matched the description of a vehicle involved in a road rage shooting the day before, according to investigators.
Hernandez allegedly got out of his car and began shouting profanities at the deputy and ignored commands to put his hands in the air. Instead, Hernandez allegedly turned his body and reached behind his back, appearing to retrieve a weapon, investigators said, at which point the deputy opened fire, fearing the driver was going to shoot him.
No firearms were found on Hernandez, according to investigators, but a knife in an open and locked position was found next to the spot where he fell.
Matthew Thomas Quinn, a 45-year-old white man, was shot and killed Feb. 11 in the 43900 block of San Francisco Street in Lancaster by Lancaster Station Deputies Arnold Camacho and Kit Gruppie. Camacho joined the department in May 2006 and Gruppie was hired in March 2007.
According to investigators, Quinn allegedly threatened his neighbor with a 4-foot ax and ignored deputy commands to drop the tool. He allegedly advanced on deputies with the ax raised and was unfazed when he was shot by a stun bag shotgun. When he continued to walk toward the deputies with the ax partly raised above his head, the deputies opened fire, according to investigators.
Eduardo Edwin Rodriguez, a 24-year-old Latino, was shot and killed Feb. 14 by East Los Angeles Station Deputies Andrew Alatorre, hired by the department in April 2007, and Sandy Galdamez, who was hired in July 2008.
Investigators say Rodriguez tussled with one of the deputies as she was trying to pull him from a van to arrest him. Her partner also allegedly saw Rodriguez with a gun as he was being pulled from a van. Both deputies fired on Rodriguez, fearing he would use his gun after he broke free of the deputy’s grasp.
A handgun was later found on the ground, near where Rodriguez exited the van but many feet from where he was shot. Investigators believe the gun may have slipped from a back brace Rodriguez was wearing, and deputies didn’t notice it had fallen during the struggle.
This is the second Sheriff's Department shooting involving Alatorre. The first, on April 25, 2014, involved Salvador Palencia-Cruz, a 42-year-old Latino whose former wife called 911 saying Cruz was in her Maywood apartment with her and her children, threatening to kill himself with a knife.
Cruz allegedly shouted threats, threw a knife-like object at the deputies and then walked toward them, brandishing a long metal object that resembled a knife. Alatorre and Deputy Daniel Marquez were backed up against a porch railing, according to a report filed by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, and fired on Cruz seven times, killing him. The metal object was later identified as a spatula.
The D.A.’s office concluded that the two deputies were placed in reasonable fear of death or great bodily injury, and acted lawfully in self-defense and defense of others. The file has been closed, and no further action will be taken.
The deputies’ names, ranks and stations were released under a Public Records Act request by The Times.
The Los Angeles County district attorney's office reviews all Sheriff's Department shootings under the District Attorney Officer-Involved Shooting Response Program and conducts independent investigation as needed to determine whether the deputies involved broke any laws. The district attorney's Justice System Integrity Division releases a public report about the shooting — or files criminal charges — after those investigations are completed.
A 15-year-old protocol calls for police agencies to submit their investigations to the district attorney's Justice System Integrity Division "as soon as possible, and absent unusual circumstances, 60 to 90 days," and for the division to issue its closing reports within 60 days, "except in unusual circumstances or where additional investigation is required."
Those timelines are rarely met, however. In a sampling of 67 reports about officer shootings between 2006 and 2014, The Times found the average completion rate was more than 10 months from the time of the shooting, with investigation times that ranged from three to 26 months. More than half — 35 — took eight to 12 months. No criminal charges were filed against officers those 67 cases.
Anyone with information about these cases is asked to contact the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. Those wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.