LAPD Releases First 'Critical Incident Video' of Use of Force Investigation

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles Police Department today released the first of a planned series of ``Critical Incident Videos'' designed to help the public understand preliminarily what officers face during a use-of-force confrontation.

The 16-minute video, available on the LAPD's website, is the first to be released under a program authorized by the Police Commission that calls for such a video to be made public within 45 days of certain types of use-of-force incidents, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said.

The video includes audio from a 911 call and police officer body cam footage, along with narration from LAPD officials. The video released Wednesday was taken May 6, when officers took 25-year-old Jose Chavez into custody in the 4400 block of Towne Avenue. Officers had gone to the location on a report of a prowler, and arrested Chavez into custody after subduing him with a beanbag shotgun and a Taser. After being handcuffed, Chavez stopped breathing, and he died at a hospital. 

The cause of Chavez' death was deferred, pending the results of toxicology tests, which are still not in, Beck said.

``It's very important to the Los Angeles Police Department that we be as accountable as possible,'' Beck said at a news conference at police headquarters where the video was released. ``And so, to do that, we are going to release more and more information regarding the use of deadly force ...''Luis Carrillo, the attorney representing Chavez's family, called the video ``highly produced,'' ``heavily edited and slanted in favor of the LAPD.''Beck cautioned that the ``Critical Incident Videos'' are designed solely to give the public an update on a police confrontation, and they do not represent a final report judging officers' actions . 

Beck said there may be as many as 40-50 such incident videos released annually. Such final reports -- known as ``end of incident'' reports -- can take months to produce, can be several hundred of pages in length and will now include the Critical Incident Videos, Beck said. The video released Wednesday was distilled from at least 50 hours of police videos, including body camera footage. It includes a narration that guides the viewer through the chronology of an event. 

Carrillo's law firm has filed a claim against the city on behalf of Leodegario Chavez, the slain young man's father. It alleges the officers used excessive force and negligently or intentionally caused Jose Chavez's death, called for the release of the full video.``We still have not seen the full video which is roughly two hours long,'' he said. ``We do not have an autopsy report yet and the video leaves out crucial portions such as the four-minute gap that shows how Mr. Chavez `became agitated.'

During this standoff, there were no crisis intervention negotiators helping Mr. Chavez understand why police had drawn their weapons.

``Before the public makes any decision on this, we urge the LAPD to release the full, raw portion along with the complete autopsy report so we can all view exactly how the police officers behaved throughout this tragic incident.''

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