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Lincoln Heights Police Shooting

August 20, 1995

* Re "It's Time for Some Good Answers," editorial, Aug. 4, regarding the Lincoln Heights incident:

Not only has the LAPD initiated its own investigation, as it does for all officer-involved shootings, the district attorney, Police Commission, City Council, FBI and media are also reviewing the incident.

Stigmatizing officers as the infamous "44" cited by the Christopher Commission is blatantly unfair, throwing out any presumption of innocence. Completely ignored in so much of the criticism of the so-called 44 officers are their exemplary records as police officers. Officer Michael Falvo's CRASH assignment is one of the most dangerous and difficult in the Police Department. He should be honored for even being part of this unit, rather than suffer the pangs of second-guessing about whether he was fit for assignment there.

Officer Falvo has been awarded five commendations for outstanding police work and tactics since 1991, the post-Christopher Commission era. He may have been cited by the independent study, but his receiving the Police Star in 1986 for saving a woman and her child from a suicide leap from a rooftop was not.

All three officers accompanying Falvo in Lincoln Heights perceived the same threat and reacted according to their use-of-force training. The law permits officers to use reasonable and necessary force according to the actions of the suspect, to protect themselves from deadly force, and if a gun is pointed at them, to shoot the person presenting the threat, and once the threat is neutralized, to cease defensive measures. Falvo followed procedures he was taught.

In light of the tragedy in Simi Valley, where a former LAPD officer was killed by a deranged individual he was trying to help while working as a police officer there (Aug. 5), one wonders if this incident were reversed, with the gun-wielding mentally ill man being killed rather than the 28-year-old father of a newborn son, whether that officer would have been criticized, too.

Whatever motivated the attacks on police officers in Lincoln Heights can hardly be blamed on the shooting alone. The quick answers demanded in your editorial should more appropriately be directed to the parents of the rioters and other civic institutions who are responsible for the lack of social services, proper schooling and job opportunities which plague that area.

BILL HARKNESS

Vice President, Board of Directors

Los Angeles Police Protective League

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