DA: South Gate Police Officer’s Actions Lawful in Fatal Shooting

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The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has determined that a South Gate police officer acted in lawful self-defense when he shot and killed a 41-year-old man with whom he had exchanged gunfire after a high-speed pursuit just over two years ago.

In a seven-page report, the District Attorney’s Office found that Osvaldo Torres’ actions placed Officer Aaron Sosa “in reasonable fear for his life, and he responded with reasonable deadly force” on March 6, 2016.

Two other South Gate police officers had initially begun chasing a white Chevrolet Impala after it failed to stop for a stop sign eastbound on Tweedy Boulevard, but the chase was terminated due to dangerous speeds and rainy weather, according to the report.

Soon afterward, Sosa saw the car cross Atlantic Boulevard at a high rate of speed, and — aware that Tweedy Boulevard came to a dead-end east of Atlantic Avenue at Burtis Street and the Los Angeles River — followed and saw two men running from the vehicle after it crashed into a concrete barrier at the end of the street, according to the report.

One of the men was taken into custody, but Torres jumped over a four-foot wall into the bed of the Los Angeles River, ignored the officer’s commands to drop the .357 revolver and fired one round at the officer, who returned fire, according to the report.

Sosa fired additional rounds at Torres when he failed to comply with demands to drop the weapon after he fell to the ground, according to the report.

Torres — who was shot multiple times — was pronounced dead at the scene. He had a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent and marijuana in his system, according to the report.

The District Attorney’s Office also concluded that officers used reasonable force in attempting to detail or control two other men who died while in the custody of officers from the Whittier Police Department and Burbank Police Department.

In a report on Jonathan Salcido’s death, the District Attorney’s Office concluded that four Whittier police officers and two Whittier police detectives “used reasonable force” when they tried to control Jonathan Salcido on May 4, 2017, after he ran away from home when his mother told him it was time to go to an inpatient facility for mental health treatment.

The District Attorney’s Office noted in its report that a deputy medical examiner determined that Salcido’s death was “a consequence of his excited delirium” and that the presence of abrasions consistent with his resistance and the subsequent use of force did not contribute to the 26-year-old man’s death.

In a separate report on Thomas Binkley’s Oct. 4, 2016, in-custody death, the District Attorney’s Office found that Burbank Police Officer Alex Gutierrez “applied lawful force” in trying to detain Thomas Binkley, who died after being stunned with a Taser outside a home in Burbank. Police had gone to the home in connection with a report alleging that he had threatened his daughter-in-law, according to the report.

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DA: South Gate Police Officer's Actions Lawful in Fatal Shooting
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DA: South Gate Police Officer's Actions Lawful in Fatal Shooting
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Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office determined that South Gate police officer acted in lawful self-defense when he shot and killed 41-year-old man with whom he had exchanged gunfire after high-speed pursuit.
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LAWestMedia.com