LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The ACLU of Southern California is disturbed by recent reports that two LAPD gang officers fatally shot an unarmed, 27-year-old autistic man in Koreatown on March 20th.

The following statement can be attributed to ACLU/SC Executive Director Ramona Ripston.

“We are deeply troubled by news reports that two LAPD gang officers shot Steven Eugene Washington, an unarmed, 27-year-old autistic man. The initial news coverage of the incident shed little light on why lethal force was necessary when officers were not responding to any report of criminal activity, and had no reason to suspect Mr. Washington of a crime just because they heard a loud noise as they were driving past.

“We fully expect the department to conduct a full and thorough investigation into this tragic incident. But we urge the LAPD to go beyond a one-time investigation examining the conduct of the officers, and take a broader look at changes in department policy and training that could help prevent such a tragedy from recurring.

“The consent decree between the Department of Justice and the LAPD addressed how to improve interaction with individuals with mental disabilities, and the department has recently undertaken a training program aimed specifically at interactions with individuals with autism. The LAPD needs to ensure that these programs are effective and adequately impressed upon the patrol officers that are entrusted with the safety of all members of our community.”