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LAPD officers fired 22 shots at unarmed driver after Corvette chase, review says

Three LAPD officers have been temporarily relieved of patrol duty after a departmental review found they fired 22 shots and killed the unarmed driver of a Corvette after he led them on a high-speed chase Friday night.

“After hearing the preliminary briefing, I am very concerned about the circumstances that led up to and resulted in this Officer Involved Shooting,” said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. “Because of those concerns I have directed that the three involved officers be assigned home pending the final results of the investigation. Determinations regarding training or possible disciplining of the involved officers will be made at that time.”

The crash and the shooting were captured by local TV helicopters that had been following the Corvette during an hour-long chase through crowded city streets. Police opened fire at Brian Newt Beaird, 51, after he slammed his silver sports car into a Nissan at a downtown L.A. intersection, drove the vehicle onto the curb and hit a tree, and then got out and tried to walk away from the vehicle. Beaird was pronounced dead at a local hospital from multiple gunshot wounds. “No weapon was recovered” at the accident scene, said Chief Beck.

The LAPD did not immediately say how many shots hit Beaird, or offer an explanation for why deadly force was employed. Chief Beck made his decision to send the officers home, with pay, after the results of an initial review known as a “72-hour briefing.” Criminal and administrative investigations are continuing and could take months to complete.

The incident raised questions about the decision by LAPD officers and their supervisors to pick up the chase, their tactics and communications at the end of the pursuit, and the decision by officers to employ deadly force.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies began the chase southeast of Los Angeles in the City of Cudahy. The chase, which took place mostly on surface streets, sometimes at high speeds, was picked up at one point by the California Highway Patrol. CHP later stopped pursuing the car.

Officers with the LAPD’s Newton Division took over the chase when it reached city limits just after 10 p.m.. The LAPD’s involvement in the pursuit lasted about seven minutes before Beaird plowed into the Nissan at the intersection of Olympic Boulevard and Los Angeles Street. After impact, the Nissan slammed into a fire hydrant. One of the two occupants of the vehicle was seriously injured. No officers were injured in the indicent.

Video footage showed that the Corvette ran up on the curb and appeared to hit a light standard and a tree. Beaird tried without success to drive away in the vehicle. He then walked around back and to the passenger’s side when he was hit by the barrage of gunfire.

Earlier this week, Chief Beck told the Los Angeles Police Commission there were 43 officer-involved shootings thus far in 2013 compared with 36 for the same period last year. But he also noted that the number was in line with the department’s five-year average and below the total of 58 officer-involved shootings registered in 2011.

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