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Two officer-involved deaths investigated in Downey

March 21, 2010 | 12:23 pm

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is investigating two recent deaths in which Downey police officers were involved.

On Saturday, officers from the Downey Police Department shot and killed a man wielding an ax, said L.A. County Sheriff’s Capt. Ray Leyva. The man, believed to be in his 30s, was walking north in the middle of the southbound lanes of Paramount Boulevard, near Imperial Highway, about 6:30 p.m. Officers ordered him several times to stop and drop the weapon, Levya said, but he refused and advanced toward them with the ax raised over his head.

"Fearing for their safety, the officers fired their weapons at the suspect and struck him," he said.

The man was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. He has not been identified, pending notification of next of kin. The hatchet was recovered.

The incident occurred one day after 31-year-old Albert Valencia died after Downey police used a Taser to subdue him after a foot chase.

Officers were called to an LA Fitness health club at Firestone Boulevard and Ryerson Avenue about 9 a.m. Friday after patrons reported that a man was acting strangely and threatening people inside the gym, according to a statement from the L.A. County Sheriff's Department.

Upon arrival, officers attempted to stop Valencia, who was driving his car out of the parking lot. The officers reported that they saw Valencia brandish a knife as they approached him, the statement said.

Valencia stopped his vehicle at Almira and Blumont roads in South Gate and fled into a yard, where officers became involved in a "physical altercation" with him and used a Taser, according to the statement.

Shortly afterward, Valencia became unresponsive, and officers performed CPR until the fire department arrived. He was taken to a local hospital and pronounced dead.

-- Corina Knoll


Learn about more than 100 fatal officer-involved shootings in Los Angeles County since January 2007 on the Times' interactive Homicide Report.