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L.A. County officials looking into spike in fatal police shootings

June 10, 2012 | 12:37 pm

Shooting
County officials are looking into an almost 70% spike in fatal officer-involved shootings in Los Angeles County last year but said it's too early to tell what, if anything, drove the jump.

Fifty-four people were fatally shot by authorities in 2011, according to autopsy reports analyzed by The Times, an increase all the more notable because it occurred at a time when the number of homicides in the area fell to historic lows. With 612 people killed in the county last year, nearly 1 in every 10 such deaths occurred at the hands of law enforcement officers.

HOMICIDE REPORT: Officer-involved killings

Michael Gennaco, who heads the county's Office of Independent Review, said he's in the midst of examining the unusually large number of fatal shootings by sheriff's deputies.

"Until you really pull each of them apart, you don't know whether it was just a blip or if it is the start of an upward trend," he said.

The Times reviewed each of the autopsy reports and identified common elements. The analysis also highlights the extreme, sudden dangers police can encounter in the field.

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— Joel Rubin and Sarah Ardalani

Photo: The scene of an officer-involved shooting in Wilmington in August 2011. Credit: Rick Loomis  /Los Angeles Times

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