Sergeant, 5 officers broke department policy in fatal 2022 shooting, LAPD chief says

Jun 9, 2023, 5:06 PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Los Angeles police sergeant and five officers broke department policy when they opened fire last year on an armed man who refused to follow officers’ commands, killing him, a police commission found.

The Board of Police Commissioners voted on May 23 to approve a Los Angeles Police Department internal investigation into the fatal shooting of Rodolfo Torres on July 2, 2022, that found the officers’ use of force was not reasonable or necessary.

Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said in his internal investigation report to the commission that four other officers who opened fire on Torres were within policy. Two other officers who responded to the scene did not fire their weapons.

On the day of the fatal shooting, two officers were patrolling South Los Angeles when they came upon Torres, 30, who seemed to be under the influence of drugs and had a bulge in his clothing resembling a gun, Moore wrote. One of the officers believed he recognized Torres as someone involved in the illegal sales and manufacturing of firearms, the police chief said.

One of the officers saw what he believed to be the “butt” of a handgun concealed in Torres’ jacket pocket and ordered him to stop and get his hands out of his pockets, Moore wrote. But he ignored their commands and instead started walking away from them, he wrote.

The officers pursued him on foot for several blocks using a patrol vehicle as a cover and called for backup, according to the chief’s report.

In trying to detain him, an officer shot him once with a hard foam projectile and Torres fell to the ground and a gun fell out of his pocket, Moore wrote. When Torres picked the gun back up, the 10 officers opened fire, firing 31 rounds at Torres within three seconds, according to Moore’s report. Some officers told internal investigators they saw Torres point the gun at them, others said they saw him raise the gun.

Torres was taken to a hospital where he died.

Officers recovered a loaded .40-caliber pistol with no serial number and an extended magazine. They also recovered another extended magazine, a .9mm AR-style pistol and a 50-round drum magazine inside a backpack Torres was carrying, the police chief wrote.

Moore wrote that while he understood Sgt. Christopher Burke and Officers Jose Rodriguez, Kyle Bender, James Stea, Israel Florez and Chad Fillinger faced a difficult situation and there were issues with Burke’s command of the situation as supervisor, there were other designated covered officers “who were better positioned to address the lethal threat.”

“Therefore, I have determined that Officers Rodriguez, Bender, Stea, Florez, and Fillinger’s use of lethal force was not proportional, objectively reasonable, or necessary,” he wrote.

Moore also said in his report that Burke didn’t need to fire his service weapon and should have stayed back and assigned clear roles to the officers.

“The Board noted that Sergeant Burke was expected to take an active leadership role and reduce the overall intensity of the incident,” Moore wrote. “However, Sergeant Burke appeared overly involved in Torres’ actions, which seemed to limit his ability to effectively manage his personnel.”

The board of directors for the Los Angeles Police Protective League, a union for officers, said in a statement that “the officers followed their training to try and keep the public and themselves safe.”

“The responding officers fired their weapons because they all saw the suspect raise his gun after repeatedly ignoring verbal warnings in English and Spanish to show his hands and after other less lethal de-escalation tactics were deployed,” the statement said.

Moore will now recommend discipline for the officers and sergeant. If he suggests a lengthy suspension or dismissal, the recommendations will automatically go to a Board of Rights proceeding. The results remain confidential under the LAPD’s interpretation of state law.

United States News

Associated Press

Father of Palestinian American boy slain outside Chicago files wrongful death lawsuit

CHICAGO (AP) — The father of a 6-year-old Palestinian American boy fatally stabbed in what authorities allege was a hate crime has filed a wrongful death lawsuit. Oday Al-Fayoume filed the lawsuit last month against the suburban Chicago landlord charged in the attack that left his child dead and the boy’s mother seriously wounded. The […]

28 minutes ago

Two women hug as Muslim and Jewish women gather at an interfaith workshop on the Israeli-Palestinia...

Associated Press

In US, some Muslim-Jewish interfaith initiatives are strained by Israel-Hamas war

Shireen Quaizar was wracked with doubt. For years, the school psychologist has been active in Muslim-Jewish interfaith dialogue, but the Israel-Hamas war left her reeling. “What are we doing with talking to each other?” she recalled thinking, frustrated by a conversation about the exact number of Palestinians killed in an Israeli airstrike. “This doesn’t work.” […]

4 hours ago

FILE - Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., leaves the Capitol after being expelled from the House of Repres...

Associated Press

Republicans had New Yorkers lead the way in expelling Santos. Will it help them keep the majority?

WASHINGTON (AP) — George Santos is gone from the House, but his name is certain to pop up in key congressional races across New York next year. Democrats are targeting five seats held by first-term Republicans and looking to associate them with their former colleague in the state’s congressional delegation as often as they can. […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Israel orders more people in crowded southern Gaza to evacuate as heavy bombardment shifts there

KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israel on Sunday ordered more evacuations in and around Gaza’s second-largest city of Khan Younis, followed by heavy bombardment, as the military’s offensive shifted to the southern half of the territory where Israeli officials assert that leaders of the Hamas militant group are hiding. Palestinians in the Gaza Strip […]

9 hours ago

This photo provided by Mattel shows a Barbie doll of Wilma Mankiller. Toy maker Mattel is honoring ...

Associated Press

Barbie doll honoring Cherokee Nation leader is met with mixed emotions

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An iconic chief of the Cherokee Nation, Wilma Mankiller, inspired countless Native American children as a powerful but humble leader who expanded early education and rural healthcare. Her reach is now broadening with a quintessential American honor: a Barbie doll in the late Mankiller’s likeness as part of toymaker Mattel’s “Inspiring […]

12 hours ago

Notes from students expressing support and sharing coping strategies paper a wall, as members of th...

Associated Press

Lacking counselors, US schools turn to the booming business of online therapy

Trouble with playground bullies started for Maria Ishoo’s daughter in elementary school. Girls ganged up, calling her “fat” and “ugly.” Boys tripped and pushed her. The California mother watched her typically bubbly second-grader retreat into her bedroom and spend afternoons curled up in bed. For Valerie Aguirre’s daughter in Hawaii, a spate of middle school […]

12 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(KTAR News Graphic)...

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

Follow @KTAR923...

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

Follow @KTAR923...

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.

Sergeant, 5 officers broke department policy in fatal 2022 shooting, LAPD chief says