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Activists to meet with Sheriff Baca over use of deadly force [Updated]

September 17, 2009 | 10:15 am

Sheriffbaca Political activists will meet with Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca today to discuss the department's use of deadly force, a day after he ordered an examination of shootings following the death of an unarmed man in Athens.

The meeting will be held about 4 p.m. at the Sheriff's Department headquarters in Monterey Park. Attending will be Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable; Tony Wafford, West Coast coordinator for the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network; and Lita Herron, president of the Youth Advocacy Coalition.

"We know the sheriff has announced a panel to look closely at the foot pursuits and how they're being handled or mishandled, but we want to go much further than that," Hutchinson said. "We're asking for a comprehensive sweeping review of all policies, procedures, training and tactics by the Sheriff's Department on the use of deadly force."

On Wednesday, Baca directed Assistant Sheriff Paul Tanaka to put together a think tank of the department's top shooting experts to find ways to do a better job handling foot chases. The announcement came a day after a deputy in Athens shot Darrick Collins, who was unarmed. An autopsy showed he was shot twice in the side of the body and once in the back of the neck.

Baca said the veteran deputy struck Collins with all three of his shots after the man reached for his waistband. The only object they found was a cellphone, Baca said.

Two deputies with the sheriff's Lennox Station had been searching for two robbery suspects Monday night when they pulled over a car matching the description of the suspects' vehicle. Collins fled on foot, authorities said. One deputy stayed at the car with the other suspect while one pursued Collins.

Baca said detectives found ecstasy and methamphetamine pills on Collins, who had been arrested two weeks before on suspicion of drug possession.

In addition to today's discussion of deadly force, activists are seeking further inquiries about the sheriff's task force that will examine the department's shootings during foot pursuits.

But Hutchinson said there were still a lot of unanswered questions.

"Is there a timeline? When are they supposed to report back? What about implementation and enforcement?" he said.

--Ruben Vives and Richard Winton

[Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the review was only of shootings involving foot pursuits. The review actually is of all deputy-involved shootings.]

Photo: L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca in 2007. Credit: Reed Saxon / Associated Press


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