Man Dies in Officer-Involved-Shooting

Man Dies in Officer-Involved-Shooting
Near 8th Street and Sycamore Avenue

Edwin Folven; Park La Brea News/Beverly Press

LAPD Holds Community Meeting to Discuss Incident

Miracle Mile Residents Concerned by Increase in Crime

A man shot after a violent struggle with two Wilshire Division officers died July 1oth at Cedars Sinai Hospital. The unidentified man was fatally wounded the previous morning after LAPD officers responded to calls that a man was smashing storefront windows with his skateboard near the intersection of Wilshire and La Brea.

According to a LAPD press release: On July 9, 2015, around 8:40 a.m., Wilshire Area patrol officers responded to a “Vandalism” radio call in the area of 8th Street and La Brea Avenue. 

The officers responding to the radio call observed a man matching the description given in the details of the radio call who was reported to be breaking storefront windows with a skateboard. The suspect fled the scene on a skateboard. The officers caught up with the suspect at the 800 block of Sycamore Avenue, after the suspect jumped off or fell off his skateboard. 

The officers approached the suspect and gave him verbal commands to submit to the arrest, the suspect refused to comply.  A violent physical altercation ensued as the officers attempted to subdue the suspect using a variety of physical force. The officer used a Taser in direct contact mode in an effort to subdue the suspect but the Taser had no apparent effect. 

The violent struggle continued and the suspect at some point was able to gain control of the Taser and use it, injuring one of the officers in the leg. The tased officer alerted the partner officer who drew their weapon resulting in an officer involved shooting. 

The LAPD held a meeting at the Ebell Club on July 14th to brief the community on the shooting and to provide residents with an opportunity to address the incident – as well as any other public safety issue. Wilshire Division Captain Howard Leslie and West Bureau Deputy Chief Beatrice Girmala took questions from the gathering of approximately 7o people, which included representatives from Sycamore Square, La Brea-Hancock, and the Miracle Mile.

Leslie and Girmala were prevented by department protocol from delving into the specific details of the incident pending the completion of the official investigations. They did go to great lengths to explain how the investigations are conducted and offered assurances that they would be comprehensive and objective.

LAPD’s Force Investigation Division and the Office of the Inspector General are conducting independent investigations into the incident. The results of these investigations will be reviewed by the Chief of Police and the Police Commission to determine compliance with the use-of-force policy.

Although a few people were frustrated by the lack of new details on the shooting, the overall tone of the meeting was civil and evidenced a mutual respect between the community and the police department.

Several questions were raised regarding the number of homeless individuals in the area, particularly those obviously suffering from mental illness. Deputy Chief Girmala said that the department was deploying teams consisting of an officer in civilian clothing and a mental health clinician to help the mentally ill access available services, including housing and treatment. She emphasized that homelessness is a complex problem that cannot be solved by law enforcement alone [see article below].

Five MMRA board members attended the meeting, including Vice President Alice Cassidy who raised concerns about the number car burglaries along Detroit Street. Tensions have been high in the eastern end of the Miracle Mile since a violent robbery occurred in the former Bank of America parking lot last April.

MMRA Vice President Ken Hixon also addressed the increase of crime along the La Brea corridor in his remarks. He said that Miracle Mile residents were pleased by the success of the restaurants and businesses that have revitalized the intersection of 8th Street and La Brea and that the safety of employees and patrons would be enhanced by a greater police presence.

Captain Leslie said that he had deployed foot patrols around the Grove and 3rd and La Brea and that he intends to expand these foot patrols south along La Brea – but he is somewhat constrained by budget and manpower issues.

For additional information:

Park La Brea News/Beverly Press, 9 July 2015: Police Shoot Suspect During Altercation with Officers on Sycamore Avenue

Los Angeles Times, 10 July 2015: Man Shot by LAPD During Mid-Wilshire Altercation Dies

Q & A: Are Burglaries Up or Down in the Miracle Mile?

Interview with L.A.P.D Senior Lead Officer Perry Jones
and the Wilshire Division Cyber Support Unit

The MMRA annual surveys reveal that burglary tops the list of crime concerns for Miracle Mile residents. Lately, there have been rumblings that burglaries seem to be on the increase. We decided to get the facts from the L.A.P.D. Senior Lead Officer for the area covering the Miracle Mile. Perry Jones is known for his professionalism and his strong relationships with the community. As an example of this, to accommodate the deadline of this newsletter Officer Jones came into the station on his day off for this interview and insisted on putting on his uniform for the photo that accompanies this article [below]. We met at the L.A.P.D Wilshire Division.

Officer Jones, what is a Senior Lead Officer?

A Senior Lead Officer is basically a person that is assigned to a certain geographic area in the City of Los Angeles, we’re responsible for the good and bad and indifferent. We take care of all the problems in the community and we are the liaison between the community and the police department. So, we are the ones that bridge the gap. We get the resources to fix a problem or we fix them ourselves.

How long have you been the Senior Lead Officer for the Miracle Mile area?

I’ve been at the Wilshire Division for twenty-three years and a Senior Lead Officer for the past twenty years. They re-did the geographic area about six or seven years ago and that’s when I inherited the Miracle Mile area. The Wilshire Division is divided up into nine Basic Car Areas and the Miracle Mile is in Basic Car Area 7A33 [see map below].

Is it fair to say that sometimes the perception of the crime rate seems to be in the eye of the beholder, regardless of what the actual statistics might be?

If I’m the victim of a crime, crime is at an all-time high and if I live three blocks over – and it doesn’t effect me – crime is at an all-time low. I can give you the numbers in my area, but numbers don’t mean anything to me. If I have one crime victim in my area I have a problem. I prefer to have zero crimes. So, for me to say that crime in my area is down 24% over last year is only mildly interesting if I have a crime victim on South Ridgeley. I’m not numbers driven. Having been a victim of crime myself, of burglary and car theft, I know personally what I want when someone steals from me: I want that person caught, I want them arrested, and I want my stuff back. And I want to feel safe – and that’s what we’re striving to do at Wilshire Division.

What is the truth about the crime rate in the Miracle Mile?

Overall, in Basic Car Area 7A33, we’re down 23.4% from last year. I’ve had 92 total burglaries this year, last year at this time I had 127. We’ve had a dramatic reduction in burglaries.

What do you attribute this reduction in burglaries to?

Community involvement and education. We’ve passed out close to 20,000 flyers this year about burglary prevention. We’ve been walking foot beats. We’ve been dedicating our resources to what we call our ‘dots on the map’ and when we get a cluster of dots in a particular area that’s where we devote our resources.

Do you find that burglars concentrate on a particular area where they’ve had success? Do they return to the scene of the crime, so to speak, to commit more burglaries?

The easier it is to get into a home, the more visible valuables inside the home are, the more concealed it is by shrubbery, the more poorly illuminated, no alarms, no dogs, with high fences – anything that would buy more time for a burglar to break in and give them cover to get out – those are the homes that burglars target. It takes a burglar a few seconds to get inside and they’re out of your house in two-to-three minutes. That’s a lot faster than we can ever respond.

Click map to enlarge.

We always hear that the best defense is neighbors looking out for neighbors.

The way we catch bad guys is a combination of burglar alarms and the eyes of the neighbors. The eyes of the community have allowed us to catch a lot of bad guys this year.

How do alarm companies interface with the police department?

When your alarm goes off the alarm company contacts our dispatchers, they try to get as much information as they can, and then we get the call. It takes about three-to-four minutes. But by the time we get the call and get the helicopter overhead, the bad guy is usually gone. But when we have a neighbor that sees them going in, we get that call quicker than we get a call from an alarm company. The neighbor can give us a description of the suspect. That’s the kind of call we look for. We have a much better chance of getting that guy.

So, residents shouldn’t hesitate calling the police, even if they’re not certain if a crime is being committed?

Anytime you sense something is suspicious or out of the ordinary it never hurts to call us. If we show up and catch a bad guy, wonderful. If we show up and nothing bad is going on, that’s wonderful, too. It gets people in the habit of communicating with the police department and that deters a lot of crime. And knowing your neighbors and looking out for each other is the best determent against crime.

Would it be useful if residents included surveillance cameras in their security systems?

Cameras are very, very helpful for us – particularly if they’re placed in the right positions on the exterior and interior of the property. The first thing we do in an investigation is look for video footage.

How important is having an inventory of your possessions if you are burglarized?

Keep it all: serial numbers, photographs, receipts – anything that helps to identify your personal property. We recover a lot of things, but we need documentation to link it back to you. We recover an enormous number of bikes, but we don’t know who they belong to, because the owners didn’t know the serial numbers. I’ll stop a guy with seven iPads in his backpack and I know they’re stolen, I’ll run the serial numbers, but they come back clean because the folks they were stolen from didn’t have the serial numbers when the reports were made.

What should people do if they come home and they see that their residence has been broken into? 

Call 911. Don’t go inside or you could become a victim of more than just a burglary. Call us. Let us do our job. Our number one priority is protecting life. Let us come and clear the property and make sure the bad guy is gone and that you’re safe. If you go in and check it out yourself and then call us, well, then it’s just a reporting call for us and it might take us some time to get there depending on how busy we are. We protect people first and property second. Don’t clear your home yourself; let us do it.

From what I understand, vehicle burglaries seem to be, by and large, crimes of opportunity. People tempt smash-and-grab thefts by leaving smartphones or laptops in plain view.

Numerous times walking through the Miracle Mile I have seen people who have left their smartphones inside their cars plugged into their chargers with the cord leading to the console or under the seat. The thief sees that cord and thinks: ‘I’ll take a chance breaking into this car.’

[Accompanying Officer Jones to the interview were Officers Robert Davenport and Joe Armstrong with the Wilshire Division Cyber Support Unit; the interview continues:]

Officer Davenport and Officer Armstrong, what are your assignments with the L.A.P.D?

Armstrong: We are the Cyber Support Unit for the Wilshire Division. The unit has been around for about two years. We are tasked with monitoring social media. Each L.A.P.D. division has their own social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. We disperse important information to the public

Davenport: We try to get the pulse of the community and to support the community and the businesses. We don’t just do crime prevention tips, we also want to let everyone know that Officer Jones is out there meeting with the community, that he’s available to the community. That we’re not just guys in uniforms who only care about placing people under arrest. We live in this community. Social media gives us a chance to demonstrate that we are human and that we’re just trying to help people navigate through their day.

It seems that what the Cyber Support Unit is doing is extending the principles of community based policing into the 21st Century.

Davenport: Yes, our problem was that the police department was slightly behind the times because the digital revolution came on so fast. When Captain Leslie first came onboard he promised that Wilshire Division would have a larger footprint in the social media world and when Officer Armstrong joined us he challenged us to do that. He created a website for the Wilshire Division and we’re the first division in L.A.P.D to have our own website. He also created a phone app for Android and iPhones. We’re the first to do that as well.

Armstrong: We have about 7,000 followers on our Twitter account. We have an Instagram account – people like to have photos. We have a Facebook account and we’ve started creating videos for our Vimeo account.

Davenport: If you repeat the same message over and over it becomes dull. The unique thing we do is to try to keep it fun as well as informative. We keep it interactive with maps and a community events calendar. It provides the community with a digital forum where they can talk to us.

Armstrong: Wilshire Division has a smartphone application available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Search for “LAPD Wilshire” on either store and you can download it for free.

•••

Los Angeles Police Department, Wilshire Division
4861 West Venice Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90019
213-473-0476
Emergencies: 911

Website: www.lapdwilshire.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/lapd.wilshire.5

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lapdwilshire

Instagram: http://websta.me/n/lapdwilshire

Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/lapdwilshire

L.A.P.D. Burglary Prevention

L.A.P.D. Holiday Crime Advisory

Interview with Neighborhood Prosecutor Mehrnoosh “Nooshi” Zahiri

[Miracle Mile Residential Association Newsletter, November 2014:]

Q & A:

Interview with Neighborhood Prosecutor

Mehrnoosh “Nooshi” Zahiri

Earlier this year City Attorney Mike Feuer revived the Neighborhood Prosecutor Program, which had been disbanded in 2010 due to budget cuts. The program attaches a Neighborhood Prosecutor to every police division in the city to serve as a liaison between law enforcement – as well as other city agencies – and the community. The prosecutors are tasked with overseeing a range of quality of life issues from nuisance abatement and code enforcement to gang activity and other threats to public safety.

Mehrnoosh “Nooshi” Zahiri was assigned in May 2014 as the Neighborhood Prosecutor for the LAPD Wilshire Division [see map], which includes the Miracle Mile. A native of Los Angeles, Zahiri attended UCLA and the Southwestern School of Law and previously worked for a firm that provided prosecutorial services for cities in Los Angeles County. Ms. Zahiri was interviewed November 12, 2014 at the Wilshire Division police station:

What is a neighborhood prosecutor?

While that question sounds easy to answer, I am learning that it can mean a variety of things. On a daily basis, I answer and look into a multitude of issues. What I’ve been telling the community is to contact me, give me the information, and if it is something that I can have an impact on, or help with, then I’m more than happy to contribute. Many issues, for example, auto repair on the street, have departments enlisted to enforce the applicable regulations. In these cases, it might involve me calling that department and explaining to them what is going on, as well as the seriousness of the issue. Further, I can explain to these departments that I will ultimately participate in the enforcement actions, should voluntary compliance not be obtained. In the past, a lot of these cases sort of got lost in the system. With a Neighborhood Prosecutor at the station, and aware of the particular issues, we can ensure that the issues are given the care and attention they need in order to be resolved.

Often the frustrations of the residents are compounded by not knowing who to complain to. There are so many different departments: animal services, building and safety, parking enforcement. Isn’t one of your roles to educate people in how to complain?

Yes. I am continuously learning about the different departments and agencies in the City, as well as the available services. If a community member has a particular issue they are unsure of where to direct, I can most certainly guide them to the appropriate department. 3-1-1 is also a wonderful resource. One of the things I’m learning is that many of the departments are overwhelmed. Therefore, complaints sometimes do not get answered as quickly as we’d like. And due to the lapse in time between a complaint being submitted, and then addressed, once an investigation is conducted the issue might not be present. If I know about the issue, and know the possibility of the particular agency being unable to investigate the situation, I can work to get another department or agency involved in order to address the issue. I can also be in touch with the complainant in order to ensure we have all necessary details.

That raises an interesting question in terms of the hierarchy of complaints. So, when you have a situation with multiple agencies involved, who is on first, who is on second, or does the City Attorney’s office trump them all?

My advice is, if it’s a new complaint and you have not yet referred it to the agency that is meant to address that particular issue–start there. File a complaint. If you don’t feel that it’s being addressed, then let me know and if there is something I can do, I will.  As I mentioned earlier, many of these agencies are overwhelmed and knowing that there is an attorney who will be there once they have conducted their investigation helps. They know that once they get a package prepared, it’s going to get the attention it deserves.

Prop 47 was just approved, which shifted a number of felony crimes downwards to misdemeanors. Will that have an impact on the neighborhood prosecutors?

It is too early to say. At this point, the cases will probably go through our normal misdemeanor channels. Due to the number of cases that will now go to the City Attorney’s office based on Prop 47, we will be there to assist and contribute in any way we can to ease the process. It is likely that new Deputy City Attorneys will be hired to assist with the new case load.

Many people don’t realize that the City Attorney handles criminal cases.

We do, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office handles all misdemeanor filings in the City. These misdemeanors can include anything from DUI offenses, to family violence cases, to drug cases.  Many crimes are considered “wobblers.” This means they can be charged as felonies or misdemeanors. In this regard, the City does handle very serious criminal cases.

Are you getting hit with a lot of these quality of life issues?

Very much so. I ‘ve attended various Neighborhood Council meetings, as well as other neighborhood association meetings, and much of the community has gotten to know me – and how to contact me with their issues. Additionally, I intentionally sit beside the Senior Lead Officers when I’m at the station so that I have immediate contact when they are getting complaints and I can be aware of them.

Do you spend most of your time downtown or at the Wilshire station?

It’s sort of a mix. I have a desk at both locations. There are benefits with being at both locations. If I’m filing a complaint, or need to brainstorm with other Neighborhood Prosecutors, it is great to be at City Hall. While being at the station allows me to have direct contact with the community and the officers.

If you file a complaint are you the attorney handling it at court?

Yes. As a Neighborhood Prosecutor, vertical prosecution is a great tool. A lot of times after general quality of life crime makes their way through all the necessary channels, and to court, the appearing attorney cannot be aware of the significance of the issue, or the particular sentence that can abate and remedy the issue for the community. And because we are in the community, and have directly filed that case, we are aware of its significance, and the best way to handle it.

Given the budget cuts that the courts have gone through – the backlog of cases – does it have an impact on your work?

It does. Although prosecution is a tool, and for many cases the only tool, we as Neighborhood Prosecutors can use other tools and methods to obtain results without necessarily filing cases and prosecuting them in the court.

So you directly interface with the parties involved in a complaint?

Yes, I usually have directly interfaced with the individual who brought the original complaint. And if the complaint can be resolved without utilizing the court system, then we will go that route.

That would seem to be very effective, because you are implying that we can resolve this here or in court.

It is. Many times, explaining the law, as well as the possible repercussions to failing to comply can resolve an issue. If the problem can be resolved this way, then we can save the time and resources it takes to get something before a court. Our goal is not to go to prosecute, but to abate the issue in an effective manner.

Give us a short lesson in how to properly complain.

Start off with complaining to the right department. If you don’t know which department to contact, either contact me or call 3-1-1, they’ll help you. Keep records, and take photos if possible. Of course, never put yourself in any kind of danger while gathering evidence. Check back with that department to find out who the inspector assigned to your case is, and you can contact them directly if you need further information. For many issues, it can be appropriate to bring me in from the beginning. It’s important that people feel free to contact me, that’s my job: to serve the neighborhood.

What’s the best way to contact you?

Email is definitely the best way.

•••

Mehrnoosh “Nooshi” Zahiri
Wilshire Neighborhood Prosecutor
mehrnoosh.zahiri@lacity.org
(213) 978-2220

Useful City Phone Numbers