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After LA-area teen's shooting, a community lashes out

Nicole Santa Cruz and Maya Lau, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

"That is the only reason why he replied 'Absolutely not,' " the statement said. Bergner declined to comment and referred queries to the Sheriff's Department's information bureau.

Xavier Thompson, a pastor and vice chairman of the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission, said that the department missed an opportunity to "foster better community relations" and that its response to the gaffe was even more troubling.

Thompson, who is leading the commission's ad hoc committee on use of force by deputies, said Anthony Weber's shooting death will be a driving force as the group prepares to issue findings and recommendations to the department.

Kevin "Twin" Orange, 54, who works with youth in the area and was raised in Westmont, said deputies used to know the youth better than they do now, and "watched us grow up." That relationship has since deteriorated, and Orange said more dialogue needs to happen between the community and law enforcement.

"It's going to be ugly before it gets better," he said.

Westmont, an unincorporated slice of land between Los Angeles and Inglewood, is one of the most violent neighborhoods in Los Angeles County, despite a countywide drop in homicides over the past decade. Weber's killing comes a year and a half after that of Carnell Snell Jr., an 18-year-old college student who was shot and killed by a Los Angeles police officer just three blocks away.

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Snell was one of five people in the last five years killed by law enforcement within a mile of where Weber died.

Snell's death sparked at least two nights of protests in October 2016. Snell was running away from officers when he drew a handgun from his waistband and began turning toward police, the Los Angeles Police Department said. An officer fired six rounds at him, police said at the time.

In response to the community outcry, the department released surveillance footage that appeared to show Snell carrying a firearm just before he was killed. The L.A. Police Commission cleared Officer Leovardo Guillen in the shooting, but the district attorney's office is still reviewing the case.

In the shooting of Anthony Weber on Sunday at about 8 p.m., two deputies responded to a report of a young man in blue jeans and a black shirt pointing a handgun at a driver in the 1200 block of 107th Street. The caller, according to audio of the dispatch call, said he feared for his life.

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