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Deputy shoots suspect in hospital emergency room

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) – A jail inmate suspected of drug use was shot and killed Thursday by a Los Angeles County deputy after the man grabbed a gun from another deputy in a hospital emergency room, authorities said.

The 27-year-old man, whose name was not immediately released, was pronounced dead at Centinela Hospital Medical Center. No one else was hurt.

The man had one wrist handcuffed to a gurney in a private triage room with two deputies when he suddenly grabbed the gun from one officer’s belt and “tried to gain possession of it,” sheriff’s Lt. Holly Francisco said. The other deputy fired the shot that killed the inmate, she said.

The man had been arrested Wednesday for investigation of possessing a controlled substance. While jailed at the South Los Angeles station, the man complained of feeling ill and responding firefighters took him to the hospital.

It was unclear if the man was under the influence at the time of the shooting.

Ken Cobb, who was in a wheelchair, said he heard one of the deputies tell the man he was going take off the handcuff to sign some paperwork.

“It happened so fast it was like a quick flash reaction,” Cobb said.

There were roughly 20 hospital employees working at the time of the shooting, but no one was in the area where the shooting occurred, hospital spokesman Steven Brand said.

Centinela Hospital, which had about 60,000 emergency room visits last year, does not have an inmate ward like some other medical facilities but routinely treats suspected criminals who have injuries or illnesses, Brand said.

In addition, the hospital provides safety training for its staff and employs security guards who are not armed, he said.

“We treat the safety of the public and our staff with the utmost importance,” Brand said. “We believe this facility is as secure as can be.”

Officer-involved shootings at hospitals are rare, although a San Diego County deputy fatally shot an inmate at UC San Diego Medical Center last month.

That inmate was taken to the hospital after allegedly attacking deputies at a San Diego jail. He broke free of his restraints as he was about to undergo a medical scan and hit one deputy with a chair before he was shot and killed, officials said.

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