Los Angeles

Mother of Man Shot to Death in Harbor-UCLA Medical Center Says Officers ‘Overreacted'

Witnesses captured the first altercation with police on cellphone video.

The mother of a man shot and killed after officers said he attacked them inside Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, California, said Sunday officers "overreacted."

"They were Tasering him, and that thing hurt, and he was screaming to leave him alone," the suspect's mother, Graciela Herrera, said of the first interaction with officers. "I even told them to leave him alone — they were overreacting."

Los Angeles County Coroner's officials identified the man on Sunday as 26-year-old Ruben Jose Herrera.

Graciela Herrera said she witnessed her son's first encounter with police after he son allegedly threw bottles against an apartment building. The altercation, captured on cellphone video, took place in the 1600 block of West 207th Street.

Officers said Ruben Jose Herrera attacked them when they approached.

"He took a fighting stance and then without any warring, viciously attacked those officers," said LAPD Cmdr. Philip Tingirides, at the first news conference held after the incident.

Two officers went to the hospital with injuries.

But Graciela Herrera said that isn't what happened.

"One officer tried to jump the fence  — the one that was holding his legs — and he fell on the ground and then he said my son punched him," she said. "That's not true. A witness seen the officer jump the fence and fall. The other officer pepper-sprayed my son in his face, and grabbed him and threw him on the ground."

After police subdued Ruben Jose Herrera, a different set of officers took him to the hospital.

They removed his handcuff from the gurney, and Ruben Jose Herrera attacked again, this time inside Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, police said. According to witnesses, he began swinging a metal chair.

An officer shot him once as he reached for one of the officer's guns, according to police. Staff tried to revive Ruben Jose Herrera, but he died.

Graciela Herrera said her son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder four years ago, but was not on —and did not need — medication.

Neighbors said Ruben Jose Herrera was quiet but was always nice. 

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