LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Police Department on Monday released disturbing video footage of a July 28 shootout that occurred during an investigative traffic stop. It resulted in the injury of an officer and the death of the suspect. The officer was shot at point blank range.
The female police officer seen in the video was not identified and the events leading up to the shooting appeared low key until the shooting. The female officer—who approached from the drivers’ side—worked in the gang unit and apparently knew the suspect as she asks, “Still on probation?” The male officer is at the passenger side door.
The officer asked the driver to exit the car, at which point he could be seen pulling out a weapon, which turned out to be a .380-caliber handgun. He then opened fire at point blank range. She could be seen falling to the ground and her partner—who was still at the passengers’ side—returned fire. As a result, the gang member was killed. He was identified as Richard Mendoza, 32, according to Fox 11.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Mendoza was hit multiple times in his head and torso. He subsequently died at a nearby hospital.
The shooting occurred in Mission Hills in the San Fernando Valley at about 10:15 p.m., the report said. The female officer was hit in the leg. She is recovering, police said.
Our latest Critical Incident Video is from an Officer-Involved Shooting that occurred on July 27, in which an LAPD Officer was shot at point-blank range during a traffic stop. The officer survived & the suspect died from gunshots. Link to entire video ➡️ https://t.co/AiIE7p28Ac pic.twitter.com/h4alCk6Lzf
— LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) September 10, 2018
Many news agencies referred to the stop as “routine,” but there is nothing routine about police work.
The LAPD released the video under a new policy that requires recordings to be made public within 45 days of a shooting by a police officer. LAPD Chief Michel Moore said the videos provide context and highlight the danger officers face in traffic stops.
“By the grace of God she is alive,” Chief Moore told the paper. “Officers are fearful in these situations and the public here gets to see why.
“Once a person has you in that position it is very tough,” he said. “You cannot stop that first one or two shots.”
“Those officers did an outstanding job,” said retired LAPD Sergeant Mike Sayre. Sayre got his first look of the footage Monday afternoon and pointed out some interesting observations.
“Everything he does alarms you,” he said of the suspect in the video.
“So, that means you have to be able to identify a problem, react to it and neutralize it within 3 seconds. That’s quick.”
Sayre also points out that LAPD officers get tactical training every other month, indicating many departments only receive additional training twice a year.
LAPD Capt. Patricia Sandoval identified the male officer in the video as Miguel Alarcon of the Mission Division but would not identify the female officer because she has “confidentiality protection as a victim of a violent crime.”
Mendoza, who went by the name of “Biz,” was known by the LAPD as a member of the Vincent Town street gang. He has prior convictions for possession of a firearm by a felon and narcotics for sales, according to the LAPD and court records.
Moore said the male partner’s ability to confront the armed driver quickly and decisively saved both their lives and illustrates why officers approach on both sides of a vehicle.
The chief said the shot shattered the female officer’s femur in her upper leg. “I spoke with her, she is OK,” he said, adding that she is continuing to mend.