Oversight board rules that LAPD shooting of homeless man was unjustified
Rear view of policeman in uniform standing against car (Shutterstock)

Commission rejected claim that the officer shot Brendon Glenn because he grabbed a pistol, putting more pressure on district attorney to charge the officer

The Los Angeles police department’s civilian oversight board has called the shooting of a homeless man in Venice last year unjustified, increasing pressure on prosecutors to charge the officer.

The police commission rejected a claim by officer Clifford Proctor that he shot Brendon Glenn, a boardwalk skateboarder, because Glenn had grabbed his partner’s holster, according to records made public on Tuesday.

Video from a bar’s security camera contradicted Proctor’s version and prompted the commission – and LAPD chief Charlie Beck – to conclude that the officer violated department policy.

The revelation put more pressure on LA county district attorney Jackie Lacey, who is still reviewing the case, to charge Proctor. Prosecutors in LA have not charged a law enforcement officer with an on-duty shooting in 15 years.

The killing on 5 May 2015 triggered protests in Venice and intensified scrutiny of city police police amid a sharp spike in fatal shootings.

Beck’s report to the commission, which was made public on Tuesday, gave fresh details about the incident on the boardwalk, a bohemian mecca where homeless people mingle with tourists.

Proctor and his partner responded shortly before midnight to a complaint about a homeless man harassing customers outside the Bank of Venice restaurant on Windward avenue.

According to the officers, Glenn, 29, who is black, showed signs of intoxication, threatened to unleash his dog on them and shouted insults, including a racial epithet. Proctor is also black.

Glenn obeyed their order to leave the spot but swiftly got into an altercation with a bouncer at the Townhouse bar, prompting the officers to detain him, which led to a struggle that ended with the shooting.

According to the report released on Tuesday, Proctor told investigators Glenn reached for his partner’s holster as they struggled on the ground. “Everything was happening so fast,” Proctor said. “And everybody’s hands were flailing around.”

He shot Glenn in the back but Glenn did not seem to react. Proctor said he then had “a little tunnel vision” and fired a second shot. “I don’t really know where his hands were but he is still holding on.”

Proctor told investigators: “What was going through my mind when I fired the second shot was I honestly believed that this guy was on something strong, like some kind of drug. And the first round did absolutely nothing to affect him. He didn’t move.”

However, according to the report, video from the Townhouse bar, which has not been made public, contradicted Proctor’s version. “At no time during the incident can Glen’s hand be observed on or near any portion of (the) holster,” said the LAPD chief’s report. It also said that Proctor’s partner “did not feel any jerking movements” on the holster nor see Glenn reaching for his gun.

As protests flared in Venice, and scrutiny intensified over a spike in LAPD killings, Beck expressed his unease over the killing just a day after it happened: he called a press conference and said surveillance footage did not show the extraordinary circumstances expected when an officer shot an unarmed citizen. He followed up in January by recommending charges against Proctor, believed to be the first time an LAPD chief has made such a call publicly.

It represented a stark contrast with the 1990s when LAPD chiefs stuck by officers involved in the beating of Rodney King and other controversial incidents, triggering riots. The creation of a civilian oversight board was one of several reforms which has improved the department’s reputation.

The commission unanimously sided with Beck that Proctor had violated department policy.