By Staff Reports
Prosecutors determined that Los Angeles police and sheriff's deputies acted lawfully in four shootings in which suspects were killed, including one involving a man wanted for allegedly killing his ex- girlfriend's new boyfriend and trying to kidnap her, documents released Wednesday show.
The District Attorney's Office found that LAPD Officer Richard Alba "used reasonable force in self-defense, defense of others, and to apprehend a dangerous fleeing felon" when he fatally shot Tien Hua in Rosemead on Dec. 29, 2015.
Hua—who was wanted for the shooting death two days earlier of Henry Estrada in Hollywood—was shot after fleeing to his backyard and jumping on top of a shed while holding what appeared to be a handgun during a standoff with SWAT officers. Authorities later determined that the item was a black butane lighter that was easily mistaken for a handgun.
"Alba reasonably believed that Hua was armed with a gun and was justified in using deadly force to stop the apparent threat in self-defense," the District Attorney's Office noted in a memorandum to LAPD Cmdr. Robert A. Lopez.
Hua was found to have high levels of methamphetamine in his system when he was killed, according to prosecutors.
The other officer-involved shootings involved:
• the July 16, 2013, killing of Juan Chavez, a documented gang member who was fatally shot by LAPD Officers Fernando Flores and Alfredo Aguayo in the Pico-Union district after pulling a revolver from his waistband, pointing it in the direction of two plainclothes officers monitoring a vigil for a deceased gang member and firing his weapon at some point. The .357 revolver was found in the gutter, and authorities determined that a bullet fragment found on the sidewalk had been fired from that weapon, according to prosecutors.
• the Sept. 27, 2015, shooting of Norma Guzman by Los Angeles police Officers Samuel Briggs and Antonio McNeely in the Central City area. The 37- year-old woman—who had seven prior contacts with the LAPD's mental health unit and was determined to have methamphetamines and THC in her bloodstream at the time of her death—was armed with an knife as she approached the officers, according to prosecutors.
• the Dec. 12, 2015, shooting death of Nicholas Robertson by sheriff's Deputies Richard Ochoa-Garcia and Jasen Tapia in Lynwood. The two fired at Robertson—who had marijuana and phencyclidine or "angel dust" in his system—after he failed to comply with their commands to drop his .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol and pointed it at them instead, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors also determined that an off-duty Los Angeles police officer and a Pomona police officer acted in self-defense in two non-fatal shootings in 2015, including one in which the LAPD officer was the victim of an attempted carjacking.