LA Sheriff’s Deputies Shoot & Kill Unarmed Man, Call It “Suicide By Cop”

Christian Rene Medina, 23, was shot to death by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies early in the morning on March 16. He was killed about a block from his home in Florence-Firestone.

The deputies were responding to a call reporting an armed robbery in the area. The caller described the robber as wearing a black hoody and black shorts, like Medina; however, Medina was unarmed. The deputies claim that, when they pulled up, he moved his body and hands like he was assuming a shooting stance, so they decided to open fire.

Medina was depressed, his family says, and they had tried to get him inpatient treatment, which he apparently was not willing to enter. They report detectives from the Sheriff’s Department told them they believe it was a “suicide by cop” case. The department says that the call was placed from a payphone Medina was standing next to when he was shot, and that they have determined no robbery occurred.

Detectives at the scene of the shooting.

Detectives at the scene of the shooting.

“That is where the call originated and he was the only one standing in the area. The only … inference is he was the one who possibly made that call,” said Lt. Eddie Hernandez, speaking for the Sheriff’s Department.

His family, though, isn’t sure. “If it was him I want to hear the recording, hear his voice that it was him, and if they have the video they can show it to us to prove it was him,” said Fabiola Medina, one of his sisters. Blanca Meza, another sister, suggested that this could’ve been avoided with better training: “I understand the cops don’t know what they’re going to get into, but they’re supposed to be trained.” Meza also wanted to see the video.

KPCC, the local public radio station, found that a quarter of those shot by law enforcement in Los Angeles County between 2010 and 2014 were unarmed.

The names of the deputies involved, the 911 call tape, and a surveillance video of the incident  have not been released.

(Photo Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

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