Wave Staff and Wire Reports
WATTS — An investigation is continuing into a fatal shooting by a California Highway Patrol officer that took place Nov. 19 on the Glenn Anderson (105) Freeway.
Los Angeles City Councilman Tim McOsker, state Sen. Steven Bradford and Assemblyman Mike Gipson, who all represent the Watts area, issued a joint statement the day after the shooting after a video taken by a bystander was broadcast. They said that, while the full details have not come out, a man who apparently was walking on the freeway was shot multiple times by the officer following a scuffle.
McOsker called the video “shocking” and said the shooting must be “fully investigated expeditiously.”
“The community deserves transparency on the circumstances around this incident and I will work with my state-elected counterparts to keep our community apprised of any results of the investigation,” McOsker said in the joint statement.
“My prayers go out to the whole community who have been impacted by this and I join my fellow elected officials and civic leaders in asking for peace at this time.”
After the elected officials issued their statement, the CHP issued a statement saying its Communications Center received multiple calls at 3:16 p.m. Nov. 19 of a pedestrian walking against traffic on the westbound side of the freeway near Wilmington Avenue.
A South Los Angeles CHP officer arrived on scene at 3:27 p.m., and made repeated verbal attempts to persuade the pedestrian to get out of the traffic lanes, but the man ultimately refused, the statement said.
Due to the immediate danger to the motoring public, the CHP stopped all westbound traffic, the statement said.
The shooting victim was identified as Jesse Dominguez, 34, by the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner’s office.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Dominguez was a struggling actor who had been homeless until being housed in a sober living facility. Family members said Dominguez suffered from mental health issues and substance abuse.
According to the CHP, as the officer approached Dominguez a struggle ensued on the freeway and Dominguez was able to access a stun gun he had in his possession, activated it and used it against the officer.
“Following the pedestrian’s use of the weapon against the officer, and in fear for his safety, the officer fired his service weapon, striking the pedestrian,” the CHP statement said.
Dominguez died at a hospital, according to the medical examiner.
Bradford, D-Gardena, said the shooting “appears to be an unnecessary use of deadly force,” and that the community deserves answers.
He added, “If the roles were reversed, people would be immediately calling for murder charges. I call on the California Highway Patrol and the Department of Justice to be transparent and for the community to be calm and patient during the investigation.”
Gipson, D-Carson, who noted he was a “son” of the Watts community, said in the statement that while all the facts that led to the shooting are not known, “justice should be our focal point.”
California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced Nov. 17 the Department of Justice’s California Police Shooting Investigation Team is investigating and will independently review the incident, in accordance with state mandates. Upon completion of the investigation, it will be turned over to department’s Special Prosecutions Section, Bonta’s office said.
A coalition of civil rights leaders issued a call for the CHP to require that all officers wear and use body cameras at all times.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, said the CHP is one of the few California law enforcement agencies that does require the mandatory use of body cams.
“The slaying of a pedestrian on an LA freeway by a CHP officer under questionable circumstances render it even more urgent that CHP officers be required to wear and use body cams at all times to determine officer culpability in the use of deadly force,” Hutchinson said in a statement Nov. 18.
He said the coalition of activists would seek a meeting with CHP Commissioner Sean Duryee to discuss the issue.