The Los Angeles Police Department produced and published graphic video of a routine traffic stop that turned deadly as part of its recent policy to release video footage from officer-involved shootings.
The video, released Monday, shows an unnamed female LAPD officer being shot at point-blank range by someone officials describe as a "gang member on probation." Her partner then opened fire on the man and struck him fatally in the head and torso. Both officers survived.
Generally, when police departments release body-cam or dashcam footage of officer-involved shootings, they publish the raw files, which media outlets often edit for length or add subtitles to. In this case, the LAPD rolled out a slickly produced video nearly 10 minutes long, interspersing dashcam video, body-camera footage, and radio transmissions alongside interviews with the department’s public information officer and use-of-force investigation group.
The release of the video also comes as part of the department’s new policy approved in March requiring the release of all relevant video footage from officer-involved shootings within 45 days of an incident.
“When a police officer uses force to arrest a suspect to defend against an attack, it can be graphic and difficult to watch,” the department’s public information officer, Josh Rubenstein, says in the video.
The incident, which occurred on July 27, begins with the female officer approaching the driver’s door. “How are you doing?” she asks in the video. “Pretty good,” the driver replies.
“Good? Haven’t seen you in a while,” she says. “Still on probation?”
“Nine more months, ma’am,” the driver says.
She eventually tells him to step out of the vehicle and asks to make sure he has no weapons or drugs on him.
“OK,” the driver replies. After a short delay, he appears to be preparing to exit the vehicle.
“You’re good,” the officer says, and opens the door for him.
When he gets out, he grabs the female officer and puts a gun to her stomach. After an audible gunshot, she falls to the ground, and almost instantly, her partner Officer Miguel Alarcon opens fire and hits the driver in the head. Alarcon then comes around the vehicle and shoots the driver again.
The female officer can be heard screaming. She was shot in the leg and survived.
In the video, Rubenstein notes that the investigation into the incident is ongoing.
“We’re at the very early stage of this investigation, which can often take up to a year to complete,” he said. “We also do not draw any conclusions about whether the officers acted consistent with our policies until all the facts are known and the investigation is complete.”
In a press conference Monday, LAPD chief Michel Moore said the video was a reminder that traffic stops can be dangerous for the officers involved.
“By the grace of God, she is alive,” Moore said of the female officer who was shot. “Officers are fearful in these situations, and the public here gets to see why.”
Cover image: Screenshot via LAPD video