California Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta’s office will investigate the fatal Los Angeles police shooting of a man on Hollywood Boulevard on Thursday, flexing a new authority for his office that took effect under a change to state law on July 1.
“We will take every step necessary to ensure a thorough, impartial investigation and review is completed,” Bonta said in a statement. “Now, more than ever, we must work together in the spirit of this new law to build and maintain trust in our criminal justice system for all of our communities.”
The announcement followed the Los Angeles Police Department’s release of four images Thursday night that showed two officers confronting the man on the Hollywood Walk of Fame just before the shooting.
Police said they had received multiple 911 calls about someone matching the man’s description who was brandishing a gun and threatening people.
One of the images showed that what the LAPD had initially described as a “replica handgun” recovered from the man appeared to be a lighter with a grip in the shape of a firearm handle.
A second picture showed a black knife that police said was also recovered from the man, and a third image appeared to show the man pointing what looked like the black blade toward the officers just before he was shot.
A fourth image, from the body camera of one of the officers, also showed the man pointing something at the officers, but it is not clear what is in his hand — or if multiple things are — because the image is blurry.
The L.A. County coroner’s office said the identity of the man was still unavailable as of Friday. Police had described him as being in his 40s or 50s.
The police department did not immediately respond Friday to additional questions about the circumstances of the shooting and the items that were recovered, including where they contend each was at the time of the shooting.
It was also unclear Friday when the LAPD would release video from the incident, something their policy dictates they do within 45 days, at the discretion of Chief Michel Moore.
Shootings of individuals with edged weapons has been a recurring and deadly problem for the LAPD in recent years, and one that has attracted increasing scrutiny.
Thursday’s shooting sent bystanders scattering in fear, witnesses said, and forced businesses to close as police maintained a perimeter around the area — near Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue — for the rest of the day.
During a Thursday afternoon briefing on the incident that came before the images were released, Det. Meghan Aguilar, an LAPD spokeswoman, repeatedly referred to a “replica handgun” being recovered from the scene.
Asked to elaborate on the nature of the replica handgun, Aguilar said: “I’m just told that, you know, it appears to be exactly like a gun. I haven’t seen it.”
Aguilar made no mention of the knife.
In his statement, Bonta said his office was working to investigate what happened “alongside” the LAPD, and that the department was cooperating.
“As we work to gather all of the facts, I’m grateful to the LAPD for their ready collaboration, and quick and committed efforts to work with us on the ground,” Bonta said.
The LAPD’s Force Investigation Division is also investigating, as it does in all police shootings. Moore will eventually present findings from that investigation before the civilian Police Commission, which will vote on whether the actions of the officers involved were in line with department policy.