Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Shooting from the side
The Feb. 6 shooting unfolded at the end of a brief chase in which Devin drove onto a sidewalk, then backed the stolen car toward officers at 83rd Street and Western Avenue in South Los Angeles.
Ever since, police investigators have been trying to determine whether the officer was standing directly in the path of the car or off to the side.
Police Chief William J. Bratton said Tuesday that by painstakingly reenacting the shooting, detectives had concluded that Officer Steve Garcia was standing to the side of Devin's red Toyota Camry when he fired 10 rounds into the vehicle, hitting Devin seven times.
The finding is potentially crucial, because Garcia has told investigators that he felt in danger as Devin backed the car toward him, leaving him no choice but to shoot, law enforcement sources say. LAPD rules allow an officer to fire at a moving vehicle if he believes his life or the lives of bystanders are in jeopardy.
Bratton, who plans to submit the department's report on the shooting to the district attorney's office next week, said he didn't believe that the results of the re-creation in themselves showed that Garcia acted criminally. It will be up to prosecutors to decide whether to file charges.
The reenactment showed that although Garcia was not behind Devin's vehicle when he fired, he had been within the car's path a few seconds earlier. Several LAPD sources said detectives were examining the possibility that Garcia drew his gun while behind the car but fired seconds later after moving to the side.