A Santa Monica officer fatally shot a man who brandished a black metal cylinder when police came to a Westside apartment early Friday to serve a warrant as part of a narcotics investigation, police said.
The object turned out to be a fire starter typically used for lighting barbecues, but the officer believed it to be a weapon, Santa Monica Police Sgt. Gary F. Gallinot said.
Fearing for his life, Officer Gary Barbaro fired one shot, Gallinot said. It struck the 53-year-old man in the chest. The man, who was not identified, died a short time later at Brotman Medical Center in Culver City.
Five other officers from the Santa Monica Police Department were present at the 6 a.m. confrontation at the patio-level, one-bedroom unit in the Oakwood apartment complex, Gallinot said.
The officers at the apartment's sliding-glass back door clearly heard Barbaro knock and announce the police presence, Gallinot said.
When there was no answer, the officer, a six-year veteran, opened the door using a key supplied by the building management and was confronted by the suspect.
"As to why he came to the door carrying something like that, I guess we'll never know," Gallinot said.
A preliminary search turned up a small amount of rock cocaine in the apartment in the Palms district of Los Angeles, Gallinot said. A woman who was present at the scene was taken in for questioning.
The search warrant was obtained for the apartment and another residence in Los Angeles as part of a narcotics investigation that began in Santa Monica, Gallinot said.
The shooting was being investigated by specialists in officer-involved shootings from the Los Angeles and Santa Monica police departments, and from the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.