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Deputy U.S. marshal indicted in off-duty fatal shooting

August 31, 2012 | 10:10 am

 A deputy U.S. marshal was arrested early Friday on suspicion of fatally shooting a man who intervened in a late night argument between the off-duty lawman and his wife in a Fairfax area alley more than four years ago.

Matthew Itkowitz was taken into custody a day after being secretly indicted by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles on civil rights violations and obstruction of justice.

Federal authorities took over the case after the Los Angeles district attorney's office declined to prosecute Itkowitz in 2010, despite concluding that his account of the shooting was “patently inconsistent” with video footage captured by a wall-mounted security camera in the alley.

Itkowitz, who had been drinking tequila before the incident, told police he acted in self-defense when he shot Ryan Gonzalez on March 5, 2008, in an alley off Melrose Avenue. Gonzalez intervened in the argument between Itkowitz and his wife after the woman ran up to him and several others standing behind a tattoo parlor and asked for help.

According to Itkowitz, he shot Gonzalez immediately after Gonzalez punched him and knocked him to the ground. The deputy told police that Gonzalez had moments earlier brandished a handgun and threatened to kill him.

The video footage, however, shows that the shooting did not occur until more than a minute later, after the men had separated and began walking in separate directions in the alley. As Gonzalez walks back in the direction of the tattoo parlor, Itkowitz can be seen removing a gun from the waist of his pants and holding it behind his right leg.

Still walking toward the tattoo parlor, Gonzalez turns back toward Itkowitz and motions for him to leave. When he doesn’t, Gonzalez turns and walks several steps back in Itkowitz’s direction. He is about 10 to 12 feet away when Itkowitz raises his gun and fires.

The off-duty marshal shot Gonzalez five times as he chased him down the alley. Three rounds struck Gonzalez in the back, an autopsy revealed.

Itkowitz is charged with deprivation of rights under color of law, using a firearm in relation to a crime of violence and obstruction of justice.

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-- Scott Glover

Caption: Video from a surveillance camera obtained by The Times allegedly shows a confrontation between off-duty Deputy U.S. Marshal Matthew Itkowitz and Ryan Gonzalez on March 5, 2008, in an alley off Melrose Avenue. Gonzalez was shot and killed during the confrontation.

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