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Talkback: Should deputy in 7 shootings have been back on patrol?

September 20, 2013|By Times staff
  • L.A. County sheriff's deputies man one of the roadblocks at Miller Avenue in the City Terrace area of East Los Angeles, several blocks away from the scene of a deputy-involved shooting that left a male suspect dead Sept. 10.
L.A. County sheriff's deputies man one of the roadblocks at Miller… (Mark Boster / Los Angeles…)

The chief attorney for the county's Office of Independent Review is raising questions about why a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy was allowed back on patrol after his sixth officer-involved shooting.

After a few months back on patrol, Deputy Anthony Forlano was involved in his seventh shooting; last week, he and a colleague fatally shot a suspect in East Los Angeles.

"Seven shootings in the Sheriff's Department is extraordinary," attorney Michael Gennaco said in an interview, "compared to the number of patrol deputies and how many they get involved in, which is usually zero or one."

IN-DEPTH: Deputy involved in 7th shooting

Times staff writers Robert Faturechi and Jack Leonard reported that Gennaco wrote a letter to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors recommending that the department create rules to make sure that decisions about returning such deputies to the streets are "thoughtful, deliberate, and well-considered, with the personal involvement of the sheriff." Sheriff Lee Baca, he said, was not informed about the decision to reassign Forlano.

Here's more from their story:

Following his sixth shooting, Forlano was pulled from patrol duty and assigned to a desk job. He was also disciplined for "tactical deficiencies" in that shooting. But recently, he was allowed to return to the streets.

Records show that three of Forlano's previous shootings involved suspects who were unarmed. In the seventh and latest incident, sheriff's officials said Forlano and another deputy fatally shot a man who fought with them as they investigated a report of a man with a gun. A handgun was found at the scene, officials said.

In last week's shooting, sheriff's officials said deputies responded during the early hours of Sept. 10 to a call of a woman screaming in the City Terrace area. A witness flagged the deputies down, saying he had seen a man with a gun, the department said in a news release. As the deputies searched the area, they heard a gunshot.

They tried to detain a possible suspect but the man started fighting with the deputies, and the shooting occurred, according to the news release. Sheriff's officials said the suspect was pronounced dead at the scene.

Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore confirmed that Forlano was one of the two deputies involved.

"This guy is [now] removed from patrol and very possibly will not ever return to patrol," he said.

The Sheriff's Department is investigating the shooting, as is the district attorney's office, which routinely reviews law enforcement shootings in which someone is wounded or killed.

District attorney officials have reviewed three of Forlano's past shootings, concluding in each that he legally acted in self-defense and in the defense of others, according to the office's records.

Capt. Robert J. Tubbs, who supervises the Community Oriented Policing Services bureau, said Forlano had done a fantastic job doing administrative work for the last two years. Tubbs said the deputy had been eager to return to the streets to "do the thing he loves to do, and that's police work."

"We've had our bumps in the road with some of his tactics, but overall he's been outstanding," Tubbs said. "Tony has a propensity to be able to find criminal activity anywhere. He's a lightning rod. He's a great street cop."

What do you think? Should Forlano have been returned to patrol? Do you think the Board of Supervisors needs to create more rules that guide how decisions are made to put deputies back on the street? Tell us in the comments section or tweet us @lanow

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