Los Angeles, CA – The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has released bodycam footage that captured the moment officers shot a suspect who was reaching for a weapon (video below).
The driver, later identified as 29-year-old gang member Norvell Cooper, was shot and wounded after he refused to follow the officers’ commands and reached towards the driver’s side door panel where he had a gun, the video showed.
The incident began at approximately 11:03 p.m. on May 20, after LAPD Southeast Patrol Division Officer Windle Hawkins and Officer Rudy Lucero witnessed a vehicle running a red light in the area of 108th Street and South Broadway, according to an LAPD press release.
After turning onto South Broadway form 108th Street, the suspect immediately turned right again onto 109th Street, then drove into an alley, LAPD Captain Gisselle Espinoza said in the video release.
Cooper stopped the vehicle behind an apartment complex, and the officers parked behind the suspect’s car, blocking it in, dashcam footage showed.
The officers then approached the suspect vehicle from opposite sides, and made contact with Cooper and his female passenger.
Officer Hawkins explained the reason for the traffic stop, and a seemingly cordial conversation ensued, the video showed.
Meanwhile, from his position at the passenger side of the vehicle, Officer Lucero noticed “what he believed was a gun” located in the panel of the driver’s side door, Capt. Espinoza said.
Officer Lucero repeatedly asked Cooper to straighten his left leg which blocked the officer’s view of the concealed weapon, the video showed.
“What’s he talking about? What are y’all doing?” Officer Hawkins asked Cooper. “He wants you to straighten out your left leg. What’s wrong with your leg, man?”
Cooper said there was nothing wrong with his leg.
“We ain’t doing nothing,” his passenger added.
Cooper ignored Officer Lucero’s repeated requests to move his leg, then became agitated.
“Excuse me sir! Can you please get out of my car?” the suspect snapped at Officer Lucero.
“Hey partner,” Officer Lucero told Officer Hawkins. “I think we got a gun inside the car!”
“That’s not a gun in the car,” Cooper muttered, as he shifted the vehicle into reverse.
Officer Hawkins told the suspect that he was going to run into the parked patrol vehicle behind him if he didn’t stop, then drew his duty weapon as Cooper reversed the vehicle slightly.
“Don’t shoot me, sir,” he told the officer.
“I will shoot you,” Officer Hawkins assured him.
Cooper denied having a gun and momentarily raised his hands.
“If you don’t have no gun, you got nothing to worry about,” Officer Hawkins said.
While the officer radioed for backup, Cooper told him that he was going to get out of the vehicle, and dropped one of his hands out of view to unlatch the door, the video showed.
“Partner, we got a gun!” Officer Lucero warned again.
“[Officer Hawkins] attempted to detain Cooper, who turned and pulled away,” Capt. Espinoza said.
“During that struggle, officers believed that Cooper had armed himself with the gun, resulting in an Officer-Involved-Shooting,” according to the LAPD press release.
Despite having been hit multiple times, Cooper fled down a walkway on the side of the apartment complex, and ran towards South Broadway.
As the suspect was fleeing, Officer Lucero located a 9mm handgun tucked into the side door panel of the suspect vehicle, Capt. Espinoza said.
He seized the weapon and ran to assist his partner.
Additional officers arrived at the scene and immediately established a perimeter while they searched for Cooper, who was located on South Broadway approximately 10 minutes later, according to Capt. Espinoza.
He was taken into custody and treated at the scene before being transported to a local hospital in serious, but stable condition.
Cooper, a known member of a Los Angeles-based street gang, has previously been convicted of narcotics sales, domestic violence with injury, hit-and-run, evading arrest, and assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer, according to the LAPD.
He has been charged with one count of “ex-con with a gun” in connection with the altercation with Officer Hawkins and Officer Lucero, Capt. Espinoza said.
The LAPD’s specialized Force Investigation Division is handling the investigation into the officer-involved shooting, which is also being monitored by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Justice System Integrity Division and the Office of the Inspector General, according to the department’s press release.
Investigative findings will be reviewed by the LAPD chief, the Board of Police Commissioners, and the Office of the Inspector General, who will determine whether or not the officer’s use of deadly force complied with the department’s policies and procedures.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office will determine whether or not police violated any laws during the altercation with Cooper.
You can watch dashcam and bodycam footage of the officers’ encounter with Cooper in the video below: