LOS ANGELES — A 34-year-old man was identified Tuesday as the person walking on an interstate — and who officials say was armed with a stun gun — before he was fatally shot by a California Highway Patrol officer.
Los Angeles resident Jesse Dominguez died at a hospital after the confrontation with law enforcement Sunday, according to a Los Angeles County coroner's report, though his cause of death has not been formally disclosed.
The name of the highway patrol officer involved in Sunday's shooting had not been disclosed as of late Tuesday afternoon.
Dominguez's loved ones are struggling to comprehend his "unnecessary death," stepmother Akasha Dominguez said in a statement to NBC News on Tuesday.
"We’re still trying to process everything," Akasha Dominguez said. "As you can imagine this is a very hard time for the family and we have been inundated with calls and texts on this untimely and unnecessary death. Right now we need to mourn the loss of our son, brother and friend."
The confrontation unfolded a little after 3 p.m. as part of Interstate 105 in Los Angeles County was shut down following 911 calls about a man walking on the freeway.
Video circulating on social media appeared to show the highway patrol officer tussling with the man on the pavement before he shoots him at close range. The man had used a stun gun on the officer, who then opened fire, according to the highway patrol.
A use-of-force expert said the officer could reasonably have viewed a Taser or another stun gun to be nearly as dangerous as any firearm.
A stun “could cause a grave and immediate threat to anyone,” and “you don’t want an officer being stunned and his weapon taken away,” said former California police officer and sheriff’s deputy Ed Obayashi.
Law enforcement agencies regularly ask Obayashi to investigate officer-involved shootings.
Obayashi did question why the officer confronted the man one on one when the freeway had been cleared and no one appeared to be in immediate danger.
“The problem is if I got distance between an individual with a stun gun and myself, then there’s an opportunity to de-escalate, an opportunity to retreat,” Obayashi said Tuesday.
“That side of the 105 was shut down, so there’s no danger to anyone. My question would be what compelled this officer to approach this individual?" he said. "There’s a zillion cops here, so I don’t know why this cop was by himself and approaching this individual. That’s going to be a fundamental question.”
Andrew Blankstein reported from Los Angeles and David K. Li from New York City.