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Unarmed Man's Killing Called Mistake

Probe: Redondo Beach officer was handed a shotgun rather than a beanbag stun gun to subdue the suspected car thief, authorities say.


A Redondo Beach police officer under orders to subdue a suspected car thief mistakenly fired a shotgun instead of a beanbag stun gun, killing the unarmed man after he got out of the car, law enforcement sources said Tuesday.

The officer, identified as Michael Strosnider, 30, was described as distraught immediately after the Sunday night shooting, sources said.

The shooting, which was recorded on a police videotape, is being investigated by the district attorney's office and the Los Angeles Police Department. The tape has not been released by authorities.

Authorities have withheld the name of the 40-year-old suspect, pending notification of his family. The coroner's office said the man was a parolee.

The shotgun used to fire the fatal blast did not have the yellow tape the Redondo Beach Police Department uses to distinguish the less-lethal weapon, according to sources close to the investigation.

A preliminary investigation found that a senior officer at the scene ordered use of the beanbag gun when the suspect at first refused to follow orders to get out of the vehicle, according to sources.

Another officer handed Strosnider the shotgun and he fired, hitting the man in the chest and killing him instantly, law enforcement sources said. The LAPD took jurisdiction of the investigation because the man was killed in Los Angeles, at Imperial Highway and Sepulveda Boulevard. The area was described by sources who were at the scene as poorly lighted.

Law enforcement agencies typically distinguish the less-lethal stun gun by spray-painting the stock with fluorescent paint or wrapping the barrel with bright tape. The beanbag guns used in Redondo Beach are wrapped with thin yellow tape on both the barrel and stock, a law enforcement source said.

The LAPD paints the stocks of its beanbag shotguns a fluorescent green to distinguish them from lethal shotguns.

Redondo Beach police refused Tuesday to provide further information about the officer or the shooting. A department sergeant referred all questions to the LAPD.

Redondo Beach Police Sgt. Phil Keenan said Monday that the officer is undergoing counseling and is not on patrol. Strosnider joined the department in August 2001, according to city officials.

The incident began when Redondo Beach police received a call at 6:50 p.m. about a reckless motorist driving north on Pacific Coast Highway in a 1992 Ford Bronco. The vehicle had been reported stolen in Los Angeles.

Officers spotted the vehicle headed north on Sepulveda Boulevard in Manhattan Beach. When they tried to persuade the driver to pull over, he stopped momentarily and then sped away, police said.

The driver led police on a high-speed chase north through El Segundo. He then turned west onto Imperial Highway and crashed into the curb, leaving the Bronco disabled.

A similar shooting occurred in Northern California seven years ago, when a Contra Costa County deputy fired a shotgun instead of a beanbag round, killing a 42-year-old man.

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