A group of officers with the Los Angeles Police Department fatally shot a suspect who threw a hammer at them after they followed him for several blocks and fired several “less-lethal ammunition” at him, according to police body camera footage that was released earlier this month.
In an initial call for backup, and LAPD officer said he believed the suspect — later identified as Samuel Ponce — may have been suffering from mental illness.
The incident, which took place on March 19, began when a “community member” told an officer about a suspect armed with a hammer near the Westlake area of Los Angeles. The officer immediately called for backup.
At the start of the video, shortly after backup arrived, an officer asks if they should “go hands on him,” or try to take him in custody immediately. An officer quickly responded “no” because Ponce was carrying a hammer.
For the next few minutes, officers followed Ponce at a distance of several blocks, continually urging him to drop his hammer. At several points, officers fired foam projectiles at Ponce, which failed to slow him down from his leisurely pace.
Eventually, officers resorted to using a Taser to slow Ponce down. Officers then “flanked” Ponce in an attempt to take him into custody.
“Heavenly father, help me,” Ponce said in Spanish.
At that point, Ponce he threw the hammer he was carrying at officers. He then raised a second object above his head, at which point officers shot Ponce in the chest.
Officers later identified the second Ponce raised over his head as a “a rear-mounted bicycle kickstand,” the Los Angeles Times reports.
The Times reports that the release of the video comes as members of Los Angeles’ civilian police commission are raising concerns about instances of police use of force on suspects wielding dangerous objects, like knives.
The investigation into the shooting is still ongoing.
Click here to view the LAPD video. Note that it contains videos of a police shooting that may be difficult to watch.