What to Know
- A LA County sheriff's deputy was charged Tuesday with voluntary manslaughter for an on-duty fatal shooting of an unarmed motorist.
- Luke Liu, 40, was charged with one count of voluntary manslaughter and other charges.
- District Attorney Jackie Lacey said the manslaughter charge was warranted in this case because the use of force was not reasonable.
A Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy was charged Tuesday with voluntary manslaughter for an on-duty fatal shooting of an unarmed motorist two years ago at a convenience store gas station in Norwalk, prosecutors said.
Luke Liu, 40, was charged with one count of voluntary manslaughter and a special allegation that he personally and intentionally discharged a firearm, which caused death to the victim.
District Attorney Jackie Lacey said the manslaughter charge was warranted in this case because the use of force was not reasonable - the critical factor that often determines whether an officer is charged for shooting someone.
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"We believe the officer's use of deadly force was unjustified and unreasonable under the circumstances," Lacey said.
On Feb. 24, 2016, Liu was on patrol in the 10900 block of Alondra Boulevard in Norwalk when he spotted a vehicle that he believed may have been stolen and pulled up behind it, prosecutors said.
Liu approached and stood near the driver's side door, according to prosecutors. Liu then went to the rear of the car and when he returned to the driver's side door, Francisco Garcia, 26, began to drive away at about 5 mph, prosecutors said.
Liu then allegedly drew his service weapon, ran alongside the car and fired seven shots at Garcia, who was struck four times and killed. The estimated time between when Liu approached Garcia and the shooting was about 20 seconds, prosecutors said. Several civilians witnessed the incident, a portion of which was captured on video.
"There is an inherent danger for law enforcement officers every time they put on the uniform. We applaud their dedication and bravery to make split-second decisions in potentially life-threatening situations," Lacey said. "But we also must hold them accountable when their conduct is unlawful."
If convicted, Liu faces a possible maximum sentence of 21 years in state prison. The case remains under investigation by the sheriff's Homicide Bureau.