Please attribute the following statement on the fatal shooting of 14-year-old Jesse Romero by LAPD officers to Hector O. Villagra, executive director of the ACLU of Southern California:
While the fatal shooting of civilians by police are always tragic, the ACLU of Southern California (ACLU SoCal) is particularly concerned by the killing Tuesday night of a 14-year-old by Los Angeles police.
The death of Jesse Romero again calls into question LAPD policy and training. Earlier this year, LAPD pledged to move towards de-escalation tactics, yet deadly force was used against this boy. Why? If de-escalation isn’t an option with a 14-year-old child, when could it ever be effectively used?
LAPD’s shooting of Jesse Romero also highlights the obvious flaws in the department’s body camera policy. Under current policy, LAPD will show the body camera footage to the officers involved before they make an initial statement, allowing them to tailor their accounts to the details they see on video. At the same time, LAPD will keep the video secret from the public. Those policies undermine the values of transparency and accountability that body cameras should promote. LAPD must change its policies so it is a model in using body cameras to build public trust, rather than create or reinforce the strong impression that it has something to hide.
Other departments across California and the United States have committed to releasing body camera footage in shootings and other critical incidents, and interviewing officers about their reasons for shooting before showing them video footage. Why can’t LAPD do the same?
The public deserves answers to these key questions and policies that reflect LAPD’s commitment to serving the public.