Last Friday Walter DeLeon, a construction worker in LA, was walking down a street, his hand wrapped in a towel, when he saw a police cruiser drive by. DeLeon flagged down the officers, extending his arm toward the vehicle. One officer stepped out of the car, shouted, “Drop the gun.” And then the officers shot DeLeon in the head.
A passing motorist stopped as this was all going down, and recorded the shooting—it can be seen at the website below—showing the two officers standing over DeLeon, bleeding from his head, before rolling him over and putting him in handcuffs.
As of Saturday afternoon, DeLeon’s condition was reported to be “grave.”
Now, it appears that, earlier that same day, two different LAPD officers shot and wounded a man who had gotten out of a car, covered in a blanket, and was armed with a gun, but no one knows if the officers who shot DeLeon were aware of that first incident, which might have influenced them.
Still, I wonder … why? Why this shoot first mentality? I know … I know … that officers take their lives in their hands every day and sometimes shoot first is the only way to protect their safety, but it certainly feels like there is more shooting and less checking these days. I mean, is it policy to shoot first and ask questions later when citizens flag them down?
And the LAPD seems to be circling the wagons around the officers because DeLeon, in the hospital, fighting for his life, is still in “protective custody” and will remain so until, and if, he can give a statement to police. That might be hard, though, given that he was shot in the head.
And the LAPD isn’t saying anything more, except to say that it is police procedure to handcuff people after they shoot them because of “officer safety.” Forgive me for wondering, but how is an unarmed man who has just been shot in the head a threat to officer safety? And, again, sorry for asking, but why did it take the LAPD more than a day to release DeLeon's name name to the press" Wouldn't doing so help in finding someone, anyone, who knows him?
LAPD confirmed that the officers were in a newer squad car, so there should be dash cam, body cams and full audio, which should always be recording. Let’s hope it shows the truth, whatever that may be, and leads to further questions about shooting people on the streets who merely seem to be asking for help.
And, again, I know police officers put their lives on the line each and every day and sometimes you can’t take that split second to make sure the man on the street doesn’t have a gun, but it certainly seems that, these days, police officers around the country are shooting first, choking first, beating first, and then asking questions.