- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 20, 2016

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A police officer was justified in shooting and gravely wounding an unarmed man who approached him and his partner with a towel wrapped around one of his hands, the civilian Los Angeles Police Commission ruled Tuesday.

In issuing its ruling, the Los Angeles Times (https://lat.ms/23ILGze ) reported the commission also released a report quoting witnesses as saying Walter William DeLeon told them he had a gun under the towel and acted aggressively as he approached the officers.

DeLeon has said he plans to sue the Los Angeles Police Department, and one of his attorneys said Tuesday he has his own witnesses who maintain his client was not acting in a threatening manner.

The June 19 shooting took a quarter of DeLeon’s skull, most of his eyesight and the ability to walk.

According to the report submitted by Police Chief Charlie Beck, a witness called 911 two minutes before the officers saw DeLeon walking toward their patrol car, which was stuck in traffic. The report quoted the witness as saying DeLeon had said, “Call 911. Let them know I’m walking down the street, and I have a gun in my hand.”

Another witness told officers DeLeon shouted, “Cops, cops, cops,” as he approached.

The officer who opened fire told investigators he believed DeLeon had a gun and was about to shoot him.

DeLeon’s attorney, Mark Geragos, said his office has interviewed about two dozen witnesses who give an entirely different account.

“We look forward to getting into a courtroom and showing exactly how not only this was not in policy, but also that criminal charges should have been brought,” Geragos said. “There was absolutely no justification for the use of deadly force. None. He didn’t have a gun.”

Another of DeLeon’s attorneys told The Associated Press last year that the father of two said he was trying to flag down the officers, although he can’t remember why now. He said he was carrying the towel to wipe away perspiration on a hot day.

“The next thing he was shot, and the next thing he remembers is he was in the hospital,” attorney Ben Meiselas said.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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