Family Demands Investigation Into Father's Death at Hands of Sheriff's Deputies

Terry Laffitte was shot and killed by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies on May 18 when they stopped him for riding his bicycle erratically.

Authorities said Laffitte was armed and aggressive before the shooting occurred.

But his family contends he was unarmed, and complying with orders.

“I feel like they murdered my brother in cold blood, like he was an animal,” Laffitte’s sister, Sandra Cotton, told NBC4 Tuesday.

Cotton believes her 50-year-old brother was shot to death by deputies simply because he was black.

“I feel it’s a racial issue, too,” she said.

A small memorial marks the spot in his backyard where Laffitte was shot and killed on Miramonte Boulevard in South Los Angeles.

His death has sparked outrage in the community. Activists gathered Tuesday at Crenshaw High School (pictured below), where Laffitte’s daughter is a student, and demanded an investigation into the fatal shooting.

“Especially the black and Latino communities, but the whole community has the right to know the truth about what really happened to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” community activist Yvette Felarca told the small group that had gathered.

A sheriff’s department spokesman said Laffitte was stopped for riding his bicycle erratically, but attacked deputies when they tried to stop him.

“Upon contact, this fight ensues because the person is obviously combative,” Steve Whitmore said. “All of those components are put together in a matter of seconds.”

The sheriff’s department said Laffitte, who had a football scholarship to Fresno State in the 1980s, had a gun and deputies had to defend themselves.

His family said there was no gun.

“If they were in Beverly Hills and a fight occurred, they would have taken the initiative to at least take that person to jail,” Laffitte’s brother-in-law Wilbert Knight said. “I mean, this man posed no threat to nobody. His face was to the ground.”

According to protocol, the two deputies involved in the shooting were taken off the street for five days, but then returned to duty.

Like all deputy involved shootings, the death of Laffitte is under investigation by the LA County District Attorney’s office, Internal Affairs and the Office of Independent Review.

The family said it plans to hold Laffitte's funeral Wednesday. Another community protest is scheduled for Saturday.

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