A family in Florence is grieving and demanding answers over the loss of a man who was shot and killed by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies early Wednesday morning.
Two deputies from Century Station were responding to a 911 call from a caller who said he'd seen an armed man committing a robbery near Gage Street and Holmes Avenue in Florence, an unincorporated neighborhood just south of downtown Los Angeles.
When they arrived, they said they saw the man standing alone at a pay phone, pretending to point a gun at them. That's when they opened fire, killing him.
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A small candlelight memorial now marks the spot where he died.
The man's family identified him as 23-year-old Christian Rene Medina. They said detectives told them they believe Medina was the one who called 911 in an effort to commit suicide by cop.
Medina's sisters say he was severely depressed, but they're not sure they believe that's what happened, and they hope the 911 tape and the surveillance video shot from a nearby liquor store will provide answers.
"We're never going to see him again, that's what they took from us," said the man's sister, Fabiola Medina. "If it was him I want to hear the recording, hear his voice that it was him, and if they have the video they can show it to us to prove it was him."
The family tried to get Medina committed to a psychiatric hospital several times over the years.
"We called and they just said he's an adult and we cannot force him to do anything he doesn't want to do," his sister said.
Last year, the sheriff's department instituted a new training program to help deputies better deal with the mentally ill. Medina's family thinks perhaps more training is needed.
"I understand the cops don't know what they're going to get into, but they're supposed to be trained. I want to see the tape and see how they came up to him," said Medina's other sister, Blanca Meza.
The two deputies involved in the shooting are on desk duty while the shooting is investigated. Sheriff's officials aren't releasing the 911 call or the surveillance tape until the investigation is complete.