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Double murder suspect unarmed when shot by officers in La Mirada

March 7, 2012 |  2:28 pm

La Mirada rooftop shooting
A double murder suspect shot and killed by L.A. police and a federal agent after reportedly firing at them from the rooftop of a La Mirada home was unarmed, authorities said Wednesday.

The Thursday shooting occurred after three LAPD officers and an FBI agent went to serve an arrest warrant for Frank Martinez, 27, at a home in the 15500 block of Escalona Road.

Authorities initially said witnesses, including officers and residents, told them the suspect reached into his pocket and fired what was believed to be a handgun.

But LAPD and FBI officials said Wednesday their ongoing investigation found no evidence either at the scene or during an L.A. County coroner's examination over the weekend that the suspect had a weapon. Investigators presented their preliminary findings to LAPD's top commanders Tuesday.

In explaining the apparent contradiction between the initial reports and the investigation's latest findings, LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said the department was trying to give the most immediate and accurate information they had at the time.

"These are very chaotic scenes and the officers all reported they believed they were being fired on," Smith said. "That's why we have our Force Investigation Division, to sort through all the information, evidence and witnesses statements."

Smith said the LAPD wanted to correct the record as quickly as possible given the new facts in the case.

The suspect, a documented gang member who died in the shooting, was wanted in connection with a double homicide Nov. 30 in East L.A. He had been on the run since the slayings, Smith said.

When officers arrived at the La Mirada residence to serve their warrant, the suspect scrambled on to the roof of a nearby home. Three officers and an FBI agent fired on the man after he appeared to reach into his pocket to arm himself with a handgun, Smith said. The officers also believed he fired at least one shot.

The accounts that the suspect had armed himself were supported by multiple civilian witnesses interviewed at the scene, Smith said.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene as news helicopters showed live video of him lying on the roof, covered by a white sheet. None of the officers was injured in the shooting.


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-- Andrew Blankstein (Twitter.com/anblanx)

 Photo: Man shot on roof of La Mirada house. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times.