LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A Los Angeles police officer says in new court papers that he shot a man in self-defense when he and his partner responded to a 2018 assault with a deadly weapon call and found two people sleeping on a driveway in Montecito Heights, an incident which is the subject of a wrongful death suit by the descendant's parents.
Alfredo Escobedo and Elizabeth Medrano, the father and mother of the late Christian Escobedo, are seeking unspecified damages on additional allegations of battery and civil rights violations in their Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit brought in December 2019.
In April 2019, the District Attorney's Office released a report which concluded that LAPD Officer Edward Artiaga shot the 22-year-old Escobedo in self-defense about 6:30 a.m. on Jan. 14, 2018. A pistol was found near Escobedo's left knee, according to the report, which says he suffered five gunshot wounds, including one to the head and another to the right upper chest.
In a sworn declaration submitted Tuesday in support of his attorneys' motion to dismiss the claims against him, Artiaga echoed the self-defense argument.
"I was afraid that (Escobedo) was taking aim to kill me," Artiaga says. "I backed away quickly from (him) while firing five consecutive rounds in rapid succession at him. At the time I fired, (Escobedo) was pointing the gun at me and I was looking at the muzzle of (his) gun."
Artiaga further says that within two minutes of firing, he asked for an ambulance.
"However, (Escobedo) was determined to be deceased by paramedics and was not transported to the hospital," Artiaga says.
Artiaga says that because the radio call indicated that a person on Amethyst Street was armed with a gun, he suspected an assault with a deadly weapon may already have occurred. He said when they arrived, Escobedo appeared to be asleep and that a second man ran from the scene with Artiaga's partner in pursuit.
Artiaga says he ran up the driveway holding his pistol and saw Escobedo on his back with his right hand on his waistband and holding a handgun.
"I sent out a broadcast requesting backup, an airship and a supervisor," Artiaga said. "I then began yelling, `Hey partner, partner, partner, partner....' as (Escobedo) simultaneously sat up and turned in my direction."
Artiaga says he told Escobedo not to move, but that Escobedo ignored the command. Escobedo turned his upper torso and head towards the officer while moving his right hand with the gun from his front waistband area to the right side of his torso and closer to Artiaga, according to the officer, who further says the shooting then ensued.
But in their lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege that instead of following his LAPD training that called for better communication with his partner about how they could gain a tactical upper hand, Artiaga instead put himself at a disadvantage and was "unprepared and uncoordinated" when he confronted and shot Escobedo.
The suit further alleges the shooting was unprovoked and that Escobedo was not a threat to Artiaga.
A hearing on Artiaga's motion to dismiss the claims against him is scheduled Jan. 22, 2024, before Judge Jill Feeney.