Tag Archive for South L.A.

Allegedly intoxicated, lightless bike rider fatally shot by Sheriff’s deputies in South L.A.

Yes, it’s against the law to ride a bike under the influence.

And yes, bike riders are legally required to have both a headlight, and at the very least, a rear reflector.

But the first is just a misdemeanor with a maximum $250 fine. And the second is usually just a fix-it ticket, often dismissed if the rider can prove he or she has put lights on the bike in question.

Neither usually punishable by the death penalty.

Yet that’s what happened over the weekend as a 50-year old bike rider was shot and killed in South L.A.

The L.A. Sheriff’s Department reports that the man, identified by KACB-7 as Terry Laffitte, was riding without lights and appeared to be drunk when he was spotted by Sheriff’s deputies at 9:12 pm Saturday on Miramonte Blvd in unincorporated L.A. County.

When the deputies tried to stop him, he continued riding to his home in the 6100 block of Miramonte. The officers followed him to the back of his home, where he reportedly punched one of them in the face, leading to a scuffle that eventually included members of his family who tried to pull the officers off Laffitte.

During the fight, he allegedly pulled out a gun, leading both deputies to fire a single shot each; Laffitte died at the scene.

The L.A. Times reports that two guns were found on the man, one of which was a replica.

According to the Sheriff’s Department, both Laffitte and members of his family who lived at the house are known gang members.

However, according to the report from KABC-7, family members say the shooting was unjustified.

“My brother was on the ground. They had his hands behind his back,” said Laffitte’s sister, Sandra Cotton. “He didn’t have a gun. Why would you shoot him if he was already on the ground and you guys had possession of him?”

Laffitte’s sister said the altercation was recorded on a cellphone, but she claims the device was confiscated by the sheriff’s department. Detectives said no cellphones were confiscated.

Family members said Laffitte had turned his life around and did not carry guns.

Of course, claims like that are easy to make.

But sometimes, they turn out to be true. Kern County Sheriff’s deputies are accused of illegally confiscating cell phones from people who witnessed a fatal police beating in the Bakersfield area — and allegedly deleting a video of the incident.

So let’s be clear about one thing.

You have a 1st Amendment right to record anything that occurs in public, whether or not it involves the police. And without a subpoena, they have no more right to take your phone or camera, or confiscate any photos or video on it, than anyone else on the street.

Less in fact, since police are required to protect the rights of the public and adhere to legal standards that the general public isn’t.

And while it happens far less often than some would suggest, it is also not unheard of for officers to plant a gun following an illegal shooting. I once knew a cop in another city who made a point of carrying a cheap handgun to drop at the scene in case he ever shot an unarmed person — and according to him, had used it in at least one case.

Of course, there’s nothing to suggest that’s what happened here, other than the statements of family members whose credibility has already been challenged by the gang accusations.

But even gang members have rights. And clearly, the LASD has some questions to answer.

Like how a simple misdemeanor traffic stop was allowed to escalate into fatal altercation.

And it’s not the first time it’s happened.

Update: Bike rider fatally shot in South L.A.; 15-year Santa Clarita rider critically injured in Wednesday collision

LAist is reporting that a bike rider was shot and killed in South L.A. yesterday.

Thirty-year old Darnell Charles was riding near the intersection of Menlo Avenue and Imperial Highway around 3:20 pm Wednesday when a car pulled up next to him. After exchanging words, the driver pulled out a gun and fired before speeding off.

No word on exactly what street Charles was on, or what was said. It’s possible it was a road rage case; however, it’s more likely that the shooting was gang related or that the driver and victim knew one another.

The fact that police know words were exchanged suggests that there may have been at least one witness to the shooting.

He was the first bike rider to be fatally shot in Southern California this year; it’s highly unlikely that he’ll be the last.

Update: The Daily Breeze adds more details to the story, identifying Charles as a former star football player for Leuzinger High School. 

According to the paper, the gunman got out of his vehicle and walked up to Charles before shooting him multiple times in the upper body, then fleeing in his car. Charles was transported to a hospital where he died at 4:50 pm.

The victim, who worked as a security guard, leaves behind a son. Police confirm that they suspect the attack was gang related. 

That does not necessarily mean Charles was a gang member, however; it suggests that the shooter is suspected of having gang affiliations, whether or not his victim did.

As I note in the comments below, the overwhelming majority of fatal shootings involving cyclists are gang related. Of the 17 SoCal shooting deaths since the beginning of 2011, gang involvement was confirmed or suspected in all but two.

Until we as a society decide it’s time to put a stop gun and gang violence, people will continue to fall victim to bullets on our streets. 

Some of them will be on bikes.

……..

In other news, a 15-year bike rider suffered life-threatening injuries in a collision with an SUV in Santa Clarita yesterday.

The rider, who has not been publicly identified, was struck by a vehicle driven by a 17-year old motorist around 5:30 pm Wednesday at the intersection of Fairview and Waterford Drives. Again, no information on how the collision may have occurred.

News stories note that the victim was not wearing a helmet; however, they don’t say whether he suffered head injuries, or if a helmet might have made any difference.

Anyone with information is urged to call Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Traffic Detective Travis Kelly at 661/255-1121.

Update: 50-year old cyclist killed by hit-and-run driver in South L.A.

As reported here last night, a cyclist was killed in a hit-and-run collision in an unincorporated area near Compton.

The bike rider, identified as 50-year old Enrique Lemus Bautista, was riding north on Avalon Blvd when he was hit by a dark colored car travelling west on Redondo Beach Blvd shortly after 9 pm Tuesday. The car, described as a black BMW, never stopped.

According to the Daily Breeze, witness reports conflicted, preventing CHP investigators from determining who had the right-of-way. It was also unknown if the driver was speeding.

No other information is available at this time.

As far as I’m concerned, though, anyone who leaves another human being to die in the street should be charged with murder, regardless of who is at fault.

This is the 50th confirmed traffic-related cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 16th in L.A. County. It’s also the 10th fatal hit-and-run involving a cyclist, and the 4th in the County of Los Angeles.

Thanks to Rex Reese for the KCBS-2 link.

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