Shocking video appears to show CHP officer fatally shoot man on 105 Freeway

The side of a CHP cruiser

A California Highway Patrol officer shot a man on the 105 Freeway in Watts on Sunday afternoon.
(Los Angeles Times)

Disturbing video recorded by a bystander appears to show a deadly encounter in which a California Highway Patrol officer shot a man repeatedly after a struggle in the middle of the 105 Freeway in Watts on Sunday afternoon.

The CHP confirmed Monday that a shooting took place on the freeway, but did not provide basic information.

You are reading: Shocking video appears to show CHP officer fatally shoot man on 105 Freeway

The Los Angeles County medical examiner’s office confirmed the person had died, though it did not provide identification, pending notification of family. A cause of death was not released.

CHP officials said they responded to the freeway about 3:15 p.m. Sunday after receiving multiple calls about a man walking through traffic near the Wilmington Avenue exit.

After the trooper made contact with the pedestrian, “a struggle ensued and an officer-involved shooting occurred,” the CHP said in a release. Authorities said over a police radio that the man had a Taser and fired it at the officer, leading to the shooting, according to audio posted on the Citizen mobile app.

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The CHP directed all inquiries to the California Department of Justice, which investigates police shootings in which unarmed people are killed, according to the department.

The state DOJ did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The video begins with a CHP officer on top of another person as the two struggle on the pavement in the middle of what appears to be a closed stretch of freeway.

After a few seconds, while the two tussle, a gun seems to go off and a bullet ricochets off the pavement near the body of the man, who remains on the ground.

The CHP officer then stands up and shoots at least four additional times at the prone man, the video shows.

The man lies motionless for the rest of the minute-long video. The CHP officer remains by the body with his gun drawn.

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Travis Norton, a law enforcement officer who runs the California Assn. of Tactical Officers After Action Review, said video is a limited way to understand a police shooting.

“It is hard to diagnose without knowing what the officer saw, experienced and interpreted was happening,” Norton said. “All I see is a very short scuffle. I see the suspect point something that appears to look like some sort of weapon. … From the video, without knowing anything else about it, the use of deadly force appears appropriate.”

But other experts said the use of force raises many questions.

Ed Obayashi, a police shootings expert who investigates the incidents for numerous law enforcement agencies in California, said investigators will immediately ask the officer why he was engaging with the person without a partner or backup in the immediate vicinity.

Obayashi also said that investigators will look into why the officer felt the need to shoot the man after standing up and disengaging from him.

“Why did you shoot him while he was on the ground?” Obayashi said investigators will ask. “You separated yourself from the individual; why was he still a threat to you?”

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