LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department on Thursday released video of the fatal shooting of an unarmed 24-year-old man that shows a reversing car’s door striking a deputy before he and another deputy open fire on the vehicle.
The video was posted online a day after Ryan Twyman’s family filed a claim for damages against the county over the June 6 encounter in the parking lot of an apartment building.
“The loss of life is tragic and we understand the community’s concerns regarding this incident,” the Sheriff’s Department said in a statement but declined further comment because of ongoing investigations and pending litigation.
In narration over the video, police Commander April Tardy says the white Kia sedan “was used as a weapon against the sheriff’s deputies.”
Deputies responded after receiving information that Twyman, who was under investigation for gun possession, drove a white Kia and frequented the apartment complex where the shooting occurred, Tardy said. Months earlier, gang investigators had found guns at his home, but Twyman was not present, she said.
Surveillance camera footage released by the department shows a deputy opening a rear door of the parked Kia. The driver, identified by Tardy as Twyman, starts the engine and the vehicle moves in reverse, the video shows.
“As the Kia reversed, the passenger-side deputy was struck with the open rear passenger door and pushed into the center of the parking lot as he attempted to maintain his balance to avoid being knocked down and run over,” Tardy says in her narration. “At that time, both deputies fired their service pistols at Mr. Twyman, to avoid seriously injuring the passenger deputy.”
The car is shown reversing in a circular direction and eventually strikes a pole in the parking lot out of the shot, Tardy says.
The deputies fired approximately 34 rounds, according to the department.
Twyman, 24, was killed. His passenger in the Kia, Deimeon Laffell, was not struck by gunfire. Laffell, 22, joined the claim by Twyman’s family that states the men in the car were unarmed and that deputies used excessive force.
Brian Dunn, an attorney for the family, told the Los Angeles Times that there was no justification for the deputies to fire on the moving vehicle.
“The only conceivable way is if it is a shootout and the person inside the vehicle is actively firing at people outside the vehicle,” he said.
Officials confirmed no guns were recovered at the shooting scene.
The deputies, who were not named, were not hurt. They have been reassigned to administrative duties pending the outcome of the investigation.
Twyman was previously convicted of carrying a loaded gun and being a felon in possession of a firearm, the department said. He was on probation.