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Tuesday, February 24, 2015
By Associated Press
Prosecutors have declined to file charges against three Los Angeles police officers who fatally shot an unarmed, disabled man on live television after a car chase.
In a letter dated Jan. 29 that was obtained by The Associated Press in a public records request, prosecutors wrote that there’s insufficient evidence to prove Officers Armando Corral, Leonardo Ortiz and Michael Ayala didn’t act in self-defense or the defense of others when they killed Oceanside resident Brian Beaird, 51, on Dec. 13, 2013.
Chief Charlie Beck determined two months ago that the officers violated department rules for deadly force and their actions weren’t reasonable. The City Council approved payment of $5 million to Beaird’s family to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit.
The officers have been assigned home pending discipline without pay, said Cmdr. Andrew Smith, a department spokesman. The officers didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
The shooting followed a nearly hour-long nighttime pursuit for allegedly reckless driving that ended when the Corvette hit a car in an intersection, seriously injuring the other driver, and then spun onto a downtown sidewalk.
Beaird’s father, Billy Beaird, watched live as his son, a National Guard veteran, staggered out of the Corvette, briefly raised his hands, was fatally shot multiple times in the front and back, and fell to the ground.
The district attorney’s office analysis states that because of Beaird’s movements, the officers lost sight of his left hand and feared he might be reaching for a weapon. Beaird was shot 13 times and the analysis found that the three fatal gunshots were as he was falling or had fallen to the ground.
A coroner’s toxicology screen found Beaird had marijuana, methamphetamine and cocaine in his system as well as an antidepressant drug, the document states.
The letter cites the chaotic and tense scene, the officers’ inability to see his hand and delayed reaction time as factors that defense attorneys could cite had impacted the situation.
“Given the fact that the entire incident from Beaird exiting the car until the shooting ceased lasted less than six seconds, such defense testimony would create reasonable doubt as to whether the officers were unjustified in continuing to shoot after the suspect had turned and even fallen to the ground,” it states.
The letter notes that an administrative decision requires a lower standard of proof and that an officer’s compelled statements while usable by the department for internal actions cannot be used in criminal prosecution.
Beaird owned a home in Oceanside, but also lived part-time in Fresno with his father, according to U-T San Diego.