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L.A. County deputies kill three armed suspects

The weekend incidents bring the total number of deputy-involved fatal shootings this year to 13 and come within days of Sheriff Baca's call to quickly investigate such shootings.

September 21, 2009|Ari B. Bloomekatz

Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies shot and killed three armed suspects in separate incidents over the weekend, bringing the total number of fatal deputy-involved shootings so far this year to 13.

A deputy was injured during a gun battle in one of the three shootings, and suspects' firearms were recovered after each incident, said Steve Whitmore, a department spokesman.

There were five fatal shootings by sheriff's deputies in 2008, Whitmore said.

The recent spate of shootings comes less than a week after Sheriff Lee Baca called for an expedited investigation into a deputy's fatal shooting of an unarmed man in Athens on Sept. 14. Baca said later that he would convene a panel of experts to examine deputy- involved shootings.

Department officials said the panel would study whether deputies need additional training.

Last week, Baca also ordered faster turnaround on department investigations into deputies' shootings of unarmed suspects. That means investigations that typically take more than a year should be completed within 90 days, Whitmore said.

The first of the three weekend shootings occurred Saturday in Lynwood when deputies with the department's anti-gang unit spotted a 17-year-old who had run from them earlier in the night, authorities said.

When the deputies tried to stop the teenager in the 3100 block of Banning Avenue about 7:10 p.m., he pulled out a handgun and pointed it at the deputies, according to a department news release.

"Both deputies fired at the suspect, striking him multiple times," the release stated. The youth, who died at a hospital, was later identified by the county coroner as Travion Richard of Long Beach.

The second shooting occurred about 2:50 a.m. Sunday when a deputy shot and killed a suspect near an onramp to the southbound 710 Freeway in Compton, authorities said.

Deputies said they later discovered that the man was suspected of earlier robbing a taco truck in the 4600 block of Alondra Boulevard.

The incident began when deputies tried to stop two men who walked out of a dark alley near the intersection of South Lime Avenue and Alondra Boulevard and one of the men fled, according to a department news release.

"As the suspect ran, he turned, produced a handgun and fired at the deputies," the news release states. "A foot pursuit ensued during which the suspect fired multiple rounds at the deputies who in turn returned fire."

The man then ran to an on-ramp to the southbound 710 Freeway when he was confronted by three other deputies who had been called for help, the release states. At least one of the deputies then shot the suspect.

The man, who has not been identified, was pronounced dead at the scene.

One of the deputies involved was shot in the leg and taken to a hospital, where he was treated and released, authorities said.

The last of the three shootings occurred shortly before 9 a.m. Sunday in Norwalk when a sheriff's deputy encountered a suspicious male in the parking lot of a motel in the 11600 block of Imperial Highway, authorities said. The suspect was uncooperative and belligerent as the deputy tried to search him for weapons, and a struggle ensued.

The suspect "broke away and attempted to draw a loaded handgun from his waist area," according to a department news release. "The deputy, fearing he was about to be shot, fired his duty weapon at the suspect, striking him in the upper torso." The man was taken to a hospital, where he died.

On Sept. 14, a sheriff's deputy fatally shot Darrick Collins, 36, in the back of the neck and side during a foot pursuit. Investigators recovered drugs and a cellphone from the scene but not a weapon.

Authorities later determined that Collins was not the suspect they had been looking for. The shooting prompted Baca to call for a closer examination of officer-involved shootings.

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ari.bloomekatz@latimes.com

Times staff writer Richard Winton contributed to this report.

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