An officer’s decision to use lethal force against an unarmed Black man at a 24 Hour Fitness gym facility last year was in violation of department policy, the Los Angeles Police Commission ruled this week.
The commission announced its decision Tuesday, which stood in stark opposition to LAPD Police Chief Michel Moore‘s determination that the October 2018 shooting was justified, The Los Angeles Times reported.
In a 4-0 vote, the commission ruled the officers should’ve de-escalated the situation by retreating and calling for back up rather than apprehending the suspect, Albert Ramon Dorsey, themselves. Moore agreed, writing in his report: “By not observing the warning signs of a potentially violent suspect, the officers acted too quickly and placed themselves at a tactical disadvantage during the incident.”
The officers, Edward Agdeppa and an unnamed partner, fired their tasers at Dorsey after failing to handcuff him, according to the report. A struggle ensued and ended with Agdeppa firing at the suspect, who was straddling his partner, repeatedly punching her in the face.
He shot Dorsey, 30, several times, killing him.
The deadly encounter unfolded Oct. 29 when authorities were called to the 24 Hour Fitness in Hollywood about a naked man who refused to leave the premises. Gym staff said the suspect had threatened employees and even assaulted a security guard.
As reported by KTLA 5, surveillance video from the parking garage beneath the gym showed a man knock the guard to the ground — seemingly without provocation — before walking away as if nothing happened. That happened the day before, when authorities said Dorsey attacked a second guard at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum in Exposition Park later that day.
Dorsey was jailed and released the following day, after which he returned to the Hollywood gym.
According to police bodycam video, officers arrived to find the suspect in a gym locker room, undressed and toweling himself off. The cops tell Dorsey to put his clothes on and leave, but he ignores their commands.
At one point, Dorsey asks officers what the problem is, to which one of them responds: “The problem is you’re causing a disturbance.”
Agdeppa becomes increasingly agitated, muttering “Jesus Christ,” as Dorsey continues drying himself off with a towel, in no hurry to get dressed. When officers order him once more to put on his clothes, Dorsey starts dancing to the music coming from his phone.
“You need to hurry up, because I’m losing my patience right now, sir,” Agdeppa is heard saying.
Dorsey gives officers the finger, after which they grab his arm and attempt to handcuff him. A struggle ensues, during which both officers’ bodycams fall to the ground. The last glimpse of Dorsey alive shows Adgeppa and his partner pulling the 6 foot 1, 280 pound suspect along, as they disappear out of the corner of the frame.
Afterwards, the officers are heard ordering Dorsey to “give me your hand” and “stop f—ing resisting.” There’s audio of a taser being deployed, then moments later, gun shots ring out.
Dorsey was pronounced dead at the scene.
The victim’s sister, Sonya Smith, described her brother as a “gentle giant” and accused police of fearing him because he was “big and black.”
“They tried in no way to call for backup,” Smith said, according to The Los Angeles Times. “His life was taken senselessly. That was a brutal and hateful murder.”
Both officers suffered injuries in the scuffle; the female officer left with bruises on her face and Agdeppa suffering a fractured nose, authorities said. The male officer said he fired at Dorsey to prevent his partner from being hurt or even killed, telling investigators, “If I even waited any longer, that next punch could have been the deadly one.”
He added that the shock from their tasers failed to incapacitate Dorsey, who grabbed the female officers’ stun gun and began assaulting. Still Moore called the man’s death “tragic” and felt the incident could’ve been handled differently.
“The department seeks to resolve instances peacefully without having to resort to force,” the police chief said Tuesday. “We look to hire people of the highest character and capability and the ability to be problem solvers and to negotiate and work their way through difficult circumstances … And when mistakes are made, there are consequences.”
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