The fugitive who was shot by LAPD officers at the end of a February chase was struck by eight bullets, two of them hitting him in the arm and six in the back, according to a report by the Los Angeles County coroner.
Nicholas Hans Killinger had stopped his car in Santa Monica after a 90-minute televised pursuit, which began in L.A., and was shot repeatedly by three Los Angeles Police Department officers as his car rolled slowly backward toward a police vehicle.
Officers fired a total of 22 rounds. Of those that hit Killinger, 23, in the back, one was a hollow-point round that struck in the center, one hit the back right shoulder and three struck the "upper left quadrant" of the back, according to the report. The fatal shot hit Killinger in the back just below the neck and traveled downward to the right, perforating his spine, puncturing a lung and breaking a rib.
A test for alcohol and drugs found traces of cocaine in Killinger's urine. Craig Harvey, the coroner's operations chief, said the amount indicated previous but not recent use of the drug.
Officers Manuel Solis and Carlos Ocegueda said they had shot the 23-year-old Malibu man in self-defense.
They said they were entitled to use deadly force to protect themselves from the immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury presented by Killinger's vehicle.
The third officer, Arturo Ramirez, began firing after he "heard shots being fired, which he believed were being discharged by [Killinger] from inside the car," according to the LAPD.
Police shot Killinger with 9-millimeter and .45-caliber handguns, said department spokesman David Campbell. The office of coroner Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran noted, however, that a search of Killinger's body and car yielded no weapons.
Attorney Danilo J. Becerra filed a lawsuit on behalf of Killinger's family this month alleging that the officers had disregarded their training, used excessive force and failed to provide medical care.
The lawyer said the autopsy results bolstered his case.
Officers were negligent because they knew Killinger had no gun, Becerra said. Also, given the relatively slow speed at which his vehicle was backing toward them, he said, they should not have resorted to deadly force.
Retired Sheriff's Capt. Frank Merriman, who investigated many officer-involved shootings in his 14 years in the Homicide Bureau, said: "The car is the weapon, and if the car's going backward into [officers], there's a strong likelihood that the suspect would be hit in the back or side."