Sheriff admits black man killed by LA police 'not suspect' in carjacking

A demonstrator from the Black Lives Matter movement. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP)
A demonstrator from the Black Lives Matter movement. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP)

Los Angeles – The Los Angeles County Sheriff admitted on Tuesday an African-American man shot dead by a deputy was not connected to a carjacking that led to the confrontation.

Donnell Thompson, 27, was gunned down on July 28 in the latest in a series of controversial shootings of black men by police that have sparked protests across the country.

The incident took place as officers were hunting a carjacking suspect who had allegedly fired at deputies, hitting their patrol car.

However, the sheriff's department said in a statement on Tuesday that it had determined "that there is no evidence that Mr Thompson was in the carjacked vehicle".

The admission, which comes on the second anniversary of Michael Brown's shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, prompted Thompson's family to call the killing racially motivated and demand a public apology.

A resident of LA's Compton neighbourhood had called 911 after finding Thompson lying in his yard, the sheriff's department said, after deputies had already arrested the carjacking suspect.

No weapon recovered

One of Thompson's hands was hidden from view and he failed to respond to numerous commands, the department added. Deputies were worried that he had been involved in the carjacking and was still armed, and when he finally stood up and charged at them, one of them fired at him, the department said.

No weapon was recovered, and the deputy has subsequently been re-assigned to non-field duties.

Thompson's oldest sister, Matrice Stanley, told reporters outside a meeting of the LA County Board of Supervisors that her brother's "mentality was like a 16-year-old".

The 44-year-old nurse said she believed race had played a role in the killing of her brother, who went by the nickname "Bo Peep" and was just 1.60m tall.

Video of the confrontation is inconclusive, according to Dawn Modkins of Black Lives Matter, who said that the family's lawyers would decide when and if to release it.

Modkins said deputies "riddled him with rubber bullets" before fatally shooting Thompson.

Public apology

She called for the Board of Supervisors to push plans forward for a civilian oversight commission, adding: "Our police and our sheriff's department can no longer be allowed to police themselves."

Compton station deputies had been patrolling early in the morning on July 28 when they stopped a motorist for a traffic violation. After running the vehicle's plates they determined it had been stolen, the sheriff's department reported.

The motorist sped off, and deputies chased the vehicle to an apartment block, where Special Enforcement Bureau personnel were dispatched.

"Deputies encountered Mr Thompson shortly after the carjacking suspect who had opened fire on our deputies was arrested," the statement said.

The sheriff's department said it was conducting "an exhaustive review of the sequence of events" that will be presented to the Los Angeles district attorney's office.

Thompson's older brother Dwayne Hill said he wanted to "make sure my brother's name is being cleared" and demanded a public apology.

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