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The Los Angeles Police Commission has reportedly found a fatal shooting by an LAPD officer earlier this year partially violated LAPD policy given she continued to fire after he lay wounded on the ground. The panel found the last two shots fired by Officer Toni McBride at 38-year-old Daniel Hernandez on Apr. 22, her fifth and sixth rounds, were out of policy.
The finding differed from Chief Michel Moore’s recommendation that the commission find the entire shooting within policy because McBride feared for her life and those of nearby bystanders. Hernandez had been involved in a vehicle collision on San Pedro Street near East 32nd Street when McBride and her partner arrived on the scene. She opened fire on Hernandez as he advanced on her with a boxcutter, ignoring her repeated commands to drop the weapon. An autopsy found that Hernandez had methamphetamines in his body.
Video from McBride’s body-worn camera showed Hernandez was at least 20 feet or so away when the officer opened fire. Hernandez went down to the asphalt after the first two shots, but pushed himself up and forward again. McBride then fired four more rounds — the final two coming as Hernandez was on the ground.
However, use-of-force experts have expressed differing takes on whether the shooting was justified. Tiff Guerra of the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition said Hernandez was too far away from McBride to be a real threat: “What Daniel Hernandez needed that day was help. And what happened instead is he was treated like a suspect.”
One speaker at the virtual police commission meeting, who only identified herself as Heather, reportedly defended McBride saying: “People have to understand that you come at a cop with a weapon or a knife or a boxcutter or a gun, you know there’s going to be consequences.”
McBride, often described as a “cop influencer” for her online and media persona, is the daughter of Jamie McBride, a director of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union which represents officers. That connection has brought additional scrutiny to the case.
“There is a very significant appearance of impropriety for the chief to be so lenient with the daughter of a very powerful member of the police protective league,” Arnoldo Casillas, an attorney for the Hernandez family, reportedly said. “He hasn’t spoken just yet in terms of the discipline, but the fact that he found no fault in any of the shooting is incredibly disappointing.”
The killing, which took place just south of downtown Los Angeles, sparked angry protests throughout the summer. The decision whether to discipline McBride will be up to Moore to decide. Moreover, new District Attorney George Gascón will decide whether to file any criminal charges against the officer. McBride’s partner, who did not shoot at Hernandez, was also determined to have broken a department policy requiring officers to “work together as a team” when faced with a risk.
Hernandez’s family has filed two federal wrongful death lawsuits against McBride and the LAPD.