LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles Police Commission ruled that an officer broke department policy by firing at a suspect who stunned the officer with a Taser at the Nickerson Gardens public housing complex in November, it was reported today.
The shooting occurred about 10:50 p.m. Nov. 20, 2020. Officer Jacob Duchsherer and Officer Min Yong Chung were monitoring gang activity and enforcing rules at the public housing complex when Chung saw 31-year-old Nicholas Hankins tossing something into a minivan, which he believed to be a firearm, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Duchsherer grabbed Hankins to detain him and told the suspect he would tell him why he was being detained after he complied, The Times reported. Hankins allegedly resisted and Duchsherer's body-camera was knocked to the floor. Chung's body-camera was also dislodged.
A second man allegedly grabbed the firearm from the van and threw it near some trash cans, but he was detained by other officers, The Times reported.
Duchsherer chased Hankins through the public housing complex, and Hankins laid on the ground as if he was going to surrender, The Times reported, citing information that Duchsherer told investigators. Hankins got up as Duchsherer approached, and Duchsherer fired his Taser, which prompted Hankins to run away.
Hankins appeared to be surrendering a second time before allegedly running away again, and Duchsherer Tasered him in the shoulder. Hankins allegedly ran away again, and Duchsherer grabbed him by the shirt and Tasered him again, but Hankins allegedly grabbed the Taser and used it on Duchsherer's leg, The Times reported.
Duchsherer told investigators he thought he might be killed because he believed his body was going to “shut down.'' He fired his gun at Hankins but missed him, The Times reported. After Duchsherer fired at Hankins, Hankins ran outside and Duchsherer chased after him with his gun drawn. He was eventually taken into custody and treated for a Taser probe.
The commission on Tuesday agreed that Duchsherer faced an immediate and deadly threat, but it found that during the moments leading up to the shooting, the officer strayed from established police protocols, making the shooting unjustified, according to The Times.
Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore had found that Duchsherer acted inappropriately by firing into the housing unit while Hankins was stunning Duchsherer in the leg with his Taser, according to The Times. Moore found issue with Duchsherer's actions throughout the encounter, saying he immediately “deviated from his predetermined role as cover officer'' when he and Chung approached the men in the parking lot.
Other issues cited by Moore included that Duchsherer rushed up to Hankins instead of creating distance and seeking cover, even though he had already been overpowered by him. He also found that he didn't radio his location or share that he was chasing a suspect.
“I have determined that as a result of inappropriate tactical decision-making, Officer Duchsherer unnecessarily placed himself at a significant tactical disadvantage,'' Moore said in a report to the commission, according to The Times. “This tactical disadvantage unnecessarily exposed Officer Duchsherer to Hankins' assaultive behavior, culminating in Officer Duchsherer's use of lethal force.''
It was not clear what type of punishment Duchsherer would face for acting out of department policy, according to The Times, which noted that the LAPD's administrative discipline process is closed to the public.
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