June 23, 2024 #1 Local News, Information and Event Source for the Century City/Westwood areas.

U.S. Department of Justice to Investigate the Gardena Police Department and City of Gardena

166311199Attorneys representing the plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit the led to a judge ordering the release of videos showing the fatal police shooting of an unarmed man plan today to ask the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the Gardena Police Department and city of Gardena.

The attorneys claim the department and city have failed to properly investigate the shooting of Ricardo Diaz-Zeferino and many prior officer- involved shootings.

Gardena police have maintained the shooting was justified because Diaz- Zeferino was acting erratically and reached into his waistband despite a command to raise his hands.

“The events that night in 2013 were tragic for all involved,” Gardena Police Department Chief Ed Medrano said in a statement released Tuesday. “We continue to sympathize with the families and regret their loss.

“We have thoroughly reviewed our response and have initiated new training, including the tactical use of cover techniques to slow down fast- moving events. We will also soon equip all our police officers with body-worn cameras.

“Dash-cam videos and audio recorders are tools we have used for more than a decade to aid investigations and for monitoring the actions of our officers. In this case, our internal affairs division, the District Attorney’s Office, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the families of Mr. Diaz-Zeferino and Mr. Acevedo and their lawyers had the ability to view the videos for their investigative purposes.

“The district attorney’s 14-page review of the shooting, which is public record, described in detail what was recorded on the videos. We have also settled a civil claim with the family. Thus, the criminal, civil and administrative cases are closed and our position is that everybody who needed to see the videos has had the opportunity to do so.”

Diaz-Zeferino was gunned down on June 2, 2013, after police responded to a call that a bicycle had been stolen from a nearby pharmacy and noticed two men riding bikes.

Diaz-Zeferino approached the officers and attempted to explain that his brother had reported the bicycle stolen and that the two men were not thieves but his friends, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit alleges that police shot Diaz-Zeferino eight times and that he laid on the street, crying out in Spanish “Hasta aqui llegue’ or “This is the end of me.”

Eutiquio Acevedo Mendez suffered a gunshot wound and survived.

The city recently settled the civil rights lawsuit filed by Mendez and relatives of Ricardo Diaz-Zeferino for $4.7 million.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson ruled Tuesday that police cruiser videos of the shooting should be unsealed after the Los Angeles Times, Associated Press and Bloomberg argued that strong public interest demands their release.

Judge Alex Kozinski issued an emergency stay of Wilson’s order until the matter could be heard by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal, Medrano said.

However, the Los Angeles Times had already obtained the videos from the district court and posted them on YouTube and its website.

Gardena will continue its appeal “because we are concerned about the broader implications of this decision,” Medrano said.

“As our lawyers expressed in court, we have serious privacy concerns as it relates to the release of police videos in general,” Medrano said.

“Imagine the implications of criminals seeing and hearing everything victims and witnesses tell police officers, or victims being subjected to having their interactions with police broadcast on the news or posted on the Internet. Our police officers are entrusted with sensitive and extremely personal information and we often come in contact with people under tragic situations and at their worst.

“We worry about the implications of this decision and its impact on victims and average citizens who are recorded by the police.”.

The city filed the footage under seal in the lawsuit.

in Crime, News
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