Los Angeles

DA Declines to Charge Ex-LAPD Officer in Fatal Venice Shooting

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck recommended charges against the former officer in the May 2015 shooting death of Brendon Glenn

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's office has declined to file charges against a former LAP officer who shot and killed an unarmed homeless man during a May 2015 altercation in Venice.

The office said there was "insufficient evidence" against ex-officer Clifford Proctor to prove he acted unlawfully when he opened fire on Brendon Glenn.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck had recommended that the officer be prosecuted. Glenn was unarmed, and his death sparked a series of protests. 

"After an independent and thorough review of all the evidence in this case, we cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Officer Proctor did not act within the law," Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said.

Evidence in the case included police body-camera video, witnesses and DNA analysis. That evidence did not support a finding that Proctor was "unreasonable in believing Glenn posed an imminent threat of great bodily injury to himself or others," according to the DA's statement.

Proctor said at the time he thought Glenn was reaching for his partner's gun during the altercation, but in April 2016 the Los Angeles Police Commission ruled the shooting was unjustified. Beck had recommended that District Attorney Jackie Lacey file charges against Proctor, calling the shooting a "criminal act."

LAPD investigators concluded that Glenn was on his stomach when Proctor stepped back and fired twice, hitting the 29-year-old in the back. Beck also wrote in a report to the commission that there was no evidence to independently show there was a "perception that a deadly threat was present."

Beck's stance caused a strain between himself and the police union, the Los Angeles Police Protective League. The union's Jaime McBride said Beck's comments on the case were "nothing short of political grandstanding."

Asked Thursday about Lacey's decision, Beck said he still believes it was "unreasonable" for Proctor to be believe there was an imminent lethal threat, and therefore his actions amounted to manslaughter.

Los Angeles County prosecutors have not charged a law enforcement officer for an on-duty shooting in 16 years. Activists have held a series of protests in recent months calling on Lacey to prosecute officers for fatal shootings.

"Lacey cannot bring herself to be objective and look at the evidence the way other folks are looking at it," said Trudy Goodwin of the Los Angeles Community Action Network.

In the Glenn shooting, Lacey said, "we cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Officer Proctor did not act within the law." She said the office reviewed evidence in the case including officer body-camera footage, surveillance videos, statements from 10 civilian eyewitnesses, DNA analysis and the "opinion of a nationally recognized use-of-force expert."

Lacey said the video gives credence to a belief the situation was becoming dangerous after Proctor and partner Jonathan Kawahara attempted to cuff Glenn, and the ensuing struggle went to the ground.

"If you look at what is going on with Officer Kawahara, he clearly is losing control of the suspect," Lacey said.  Moments later, Proctor stepped back and fired.

The city of Los Angeles paid $4 million to settle wrongful-death lawsuits filed by Glenn's relatives. Their attorney, V. James DeSimone, spoke out in criticism of Lacey's decision, citing Beck's position, and characterizing Proctor's actions as "aggressive" during the encounter.

"True justice can only come through the criminal justice system," DeSimone said.

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