Justified Shooting? Man Shot and Killed By California Police After Smashing Windows of a Restaurant With A Pipe

This video on YouTube raises serious questions over the necessity of shooting a man outside of a Carl’s Jr. in Monterey Park, California. The man was smashing windows with a pipe and failed to yield to commands from officers. When he turned toward one officer and raised the pipe, he was repeatedly shot by the other officer in the video.

Frankly, listening to the cellphone left me equally shocked by the callous attitude of the people speaking as by the film itself.

The man clearly was a danger to the officer with a 3-foot pipe. However, he was only responsible for property damage at that point and the police could have backed away and tried to continue to use the tasers as well as the dog. The man’s resistance to the taser is a classic indication of being on drugs, particularly Phencyclidine (PCP) or “angel dust.” Given the man’s turning toward the officer, it is likely to be viewed as a justified use of force under police guidelines since he had a weapon. I am not convinced however that this shooting was necessary. It looks from this video that police could have avoided the shooting that further endangered people in the area. The officers also fired an excessive number of bullets, including one that almost hit a woman standing underneath a nearby sign. She was injured by the failing glass and debris.

A typical police manual stipulates that “[a]n officer may use deadly force in the circumstances permitted by this policy when all reasonable alternatives appear impracticable and the officer reasonably believes that the use of deadly force is necessary.” It would seem that there were reasonable alternatives here, including backing away and isolating the man with the dog or non-lethal force. Nevertheless, it would fit the current interpretation of Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1 (1985).

When automatic and semi-automatic Glock 9mm weapons were introduced in the police force, many experts expressed concern over the ease of firing the weapon and its large number of rounds in its standard clip (often 30). The concern was that it would increase the number of rounds fired in such incidents and thereby increase the likelihood of fatalities, including to bystanders.

Once again, while police have threatened or arrested citizens videotaping them in public, this video is another example of its value to the public.

Source; Youtube and ABC

35 thoughts on “Justified Shooting? Man Shot and Killed By California Police After Smashing Windows of a Restaurant With A Pipe”

  1. Here’s an update from my local newspaper the San Gabriel Valley Tribune about the many things that are going on regarding this case:


    The article includes the following:

    “Community members continue to offer support to the dead man’s family and push for more details. At least one group of activists have called for dismissal of the officers and an independent investigation, according to one local Chinese language daily newspaper.

    “There are a lot of people concerned about the use of force, the way it all happened and what the video shows,” said Ana Hernandez, 26, an East Los Angeles College alumna who has been helping organize the community efforts. “The general consensus is that this was an act of terrorism on our community.”

    “. . . .

    “Community members, Rodriguez’s family and friends and students from East Los Angeles College, where Rodriguez was a student, have been organizing since the shooting to increase public awareness.

    “They have created a Facebook group and held a vigil at Carl’s Jr. where the incident occurred for nine nights. Today, they will hold a carwash to raise funds for Rodriguez’s family. The carwash will be at Carl’s Jr., 1231 Avenida Cesar Chavez.

    “There are a lot of things that really terrify us about this event,” Hernandez said. “The scene of the shooting has been an outlet for all of us.”

    “Hernandez said she and others also plan to attend the Feb.13 City Council meeting to express their concern about the shooting.”


  2. On what grounds can we call police wielding overwhelming force with the law behind their back HEROES (since we have done since 9/11) when they take down people like the fellow in this video. In virtually every instance of the use of deadly force by agents of a very powerful state the defense is — the police had to ward off a deadly threat to THEMSELVES. Really? This rationale is now used by police across the country and by our military around the world.

    Thrust highly armed men into any situation and they will usually provoke a response of various magnitudes. Why is law enforcement’s sense of safety — highly subjective at best — always the yardstick for the justification for the use of force?

    It seems to me HEROES are those that actually risk their lives to save lives, e.g., firemen, ambulance drivers, medical staff working in highly contagious situations and the like. Cops who try to save the life of the “perp” — to use the cold expression — by talking the person down, negotiating with him, psychologically disarming him is the mark of a hero.

    The norm today, however, is to bark demeaning orders and wave implements of war at clearly angry, disoriented citizens — in short making everything worse. Extermination, elimination, execution are the hallmarks of cowards shirking their duty to society, by resorting to efficiency of the powerful enforcement machine, worrying only about themselves and their safety.

    As in most things in our society, we have lost the sense of purpose of what our jobs and, indeed, our very existence on this planet is all about. What the police did in this video and in thousands of similar instances is act as society’s exterminators. Who do you call when someone is out of line, say, busting windows? Call People Busters — they will exterminate social vermin so everyone can go about their business again, the business of serving and eating burgers and fries. Nice, going guys.

    Woe onto a society that sinks to this level for it hands each citizen a ticket in the extermination lottery. While the odds are low that your number will come up if you are in the middle and upper classes, but if it does, the odds are very high that you will be exterminated for the safety of the executioners.

  3. It sounds like they DID use a taser – the popping sounds at 36-37 seconds. AND they used pepper spray at 41-42 seconds. At that point, I really don’t see how they had any choice at all.

  4. no need to shoot him. all they had to do is wait until the carls jr burger hit his gut then corner him in the restroom.

  5. rafflaw-
    “If he was able to hit him in the chest 6-8 times, wouldn’t he be able to only shoot him once or twice ?”

    I know you addressed this to mespo, but if you don’t mind, I’ll pipe in.

    In handgun training, you are (for the most part) taught to fire until the threat is ended. So hypothetically, if an officer fires a single shot and the shootee drops like a bag of cement, then one shot was enough. But real people don’t usually act like in movies or TV. It’s possible to be hit numerous times, even in vital organs, and remain a threat.

    I’ll be honest in saying that I’ve yet to watch the video. I’ve had enough of the type, I just don’t feel like watching another person die, whether it was justified or not. But if the five or six were fired in rapid succession while the guy was still standing, then it was appropriate (assuming use of deadly force was appropriate at all). If you pause to see what effect your shot will have, the guy could be on top of you in the blink of an eye. If he shot the guy while he was on the ground, all bets are off.

    This is an extreme case, but one of the most famous instances of what people can do even after being riddled with bullets was the 1986 Miami FBI shootout. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1986_FBI_Miami_shootout

    In this instance, one of the two bank robbers didn’t go down until he’d been hit twelve times. He managed to injure and kill agents after he’d sustained multiple lethal wounds, but wounds that didn’t put him down fast enough. There are even more extreme cases as well.

  6. What a horrible incident. It seems the police are a bit too trigger happy, & I realize they have to protect themselves, but from reading the comments here there were very viable alternatives.

    A pipe is not like a gun, if he throws it at someone he loses his weapon. In fact the officers would have to be within reach of the pipe in order to get hurt. So, why were they crowding him?

    Here is another troubling case: http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/weird/Man-Held-in-Solitary-Confinement-2-Years-After-DWI-Gets-22M-138053288.html

  7. Too bad the officer closest to the perp didn’t know or use martial arts training to a) avoid the swinging pipe and see what presents itself or b) seeing the man with a pipe, you take out your night stick before approaching him to deflect the pipe, opening the perp up for a decisive throw, kick, punch, chop, retaliatory swing with night stick (much faster than that pipe) or capture (depending on training and presentation of body). Then the perp would be paying for the damage and live to think about his actions and maybe mend his ways. If the person committing the damage was a psycho off his meds, then he’d be referred to someone to get back on track.

  8. rafflaw:

    You’d be surprised at how tough it is to bring someone down with a handgun. Truth is the semis are harder to shoot than the old revolver the cops used to use because of the upward recoil and the precessing from side to side.

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