Dorner case: Cops who shot civilians are out of field, Beck says
This post has been corrected. See note at the bottom for details.
The Los Angeles police officers who mistakenly shot at two newspaper delivery women in their truck in Torrance thinking it was the vehicle of fugitive ex-cop Christopher Dorner will be kept out of the field until an investigation into the shooting is complete, Chief Charlie Beck said.
The seven officers were working a protection detail Feb. 7 near the home of a high-ranking LAPD official who was a potential target for Dorner when they riddled the women's blue Toyota Tacoma truck with bullets after mistaking it for Dorner's gray Nissan truck.
The shooting occured after the officers received a radio call that a pickup truck had exited the freeway and was heading their way.
Dorner, who authorities say subsequently shot himself after a siege at a Big Bear-area cabin, had at the time already killed the daughter of a former LAPD captain, her boyfriend (a USC police officer) and a Riverside police officer.
"I have done my initial 72-hour review on the Torrance shooting and I have taken the officers involved out of the field and they will stay out of the field until the investigation is complete," Beck said Tuesday. "At that point I will make a determination whether they need to be disciplined."
Margie Carranza, 47, and her mother, Emma Hernandez, 71, were delivering newspapers in Torrance when LAPD officers shot Hernandez twice in the back. Carranza sustained minor injuries from broken glass or possibly a bullet fragment, according to her attorney.
Beck has called the incident “a tragic misinterpretation” by officers working under "incredible tension” hours after Dorner allegedly shot three police officers, one fatally.
In the aftermath, Beck met separately with the two women and told them a truck will be purchased using money from donors. That truck has not been handed over yet.
The women's attorney, Glen T. Jonas, said, "The family appreciates that Chief Beck apologized on behalf of the LAPD." But the action won't preclude a legal settlement or lawsuit.
Jonas told The Times that the police officers gave "no commands, no
instructions and no opportunity to surrender" before opening fire. He described
a terrifying encounter in which the pair were in the early part of their
delivery route through several South Bay communities.
Hernandez was in the back seat handing papers to her daughter, who was driving. Carranza would briefly slow the truck to throw papers on driveways and front walks. As bullets tore through the cabin, the two women "covered their faces and huddled down," Jonas said. "They felt like it was going on forever."
In an interview with The Times, Beck said the gunfire occurred in two bursts: The first came from an officer positioned down the block from the LAPD official's residence, and the second when Carranza accelerated away from the gunfire and toward other officers.
Jonas estimated that the officers fired between 20 and 30 rounds. Photographs
of the back of the truck showed at least two dozen bullet holes. Neighbors,
however, suggested there were more shots fired. The street was pockmarked with bullet holes in cars, trees, garage doors and roofs.
Meanwhile, Torrance police are investigating another shooting by their officers shortly after the LAPD shooting just a few streets away. In the second incident, a Torrance police cruiser slammed into the pickup and officers opened fire on a man heading to the beach to surf before work. Torrance police said the officers were responding to call that fellow officers were being shot at when they collided with the truck. The driver, David Perdue, was not hit by gunfire but was injured in the collision.
An investigation into the shooting remains ongoing, officials said. The Torrance police chief apologized to Perdue and offered him a rental car and payment for his medical expenses.
[For the Record, 1:06 p.m. Feb. 20: An earlier version of this online post made incorrect references to two of Christopher Dorner's victims. Keith Lawrence was a USC police officer, not a security officer; Michael Crain was a Riverside police officer, not a sheriff's deputy.]
— Richard Winton
Photo: Police investigators examine a blue pickup that was riddled with bullets Feb. 7 on Redbeam Avenue in Torrance. Officers, thinking shooting suspect Christopher Dorner might have been in the vehicle, unleashed a fusillade, wounding a woman and her mother. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times