LOS ANGELES -- A police officer who killed a bystander in a gun battle outside a Trader Joe's in Silver Lake did not violate department policy by shooting toward a crowded store, the Los Angeles Police Commission ruled Tuesday.
A gunman had begun shooting at two LAPD officers as they pursued him in their patrol car July 21. The man crashed his car and ran toward the Trader Joe's store, firing more rounds at the officers.
One officer shot back five times, stopping after the man entered the store because there were likely people inside, according to a report by LAPD Chief Michel Moore that was released Tuesday.
But it was too late. A bullet had traveled into the Trader Joe's, striking 27-year-old store manager Melyda Corado in the chest, the report said.
The officer's partner fired three rounds at the gunman, identified by authorities as Gene Evin Atkins, before he went into store.
Atkins, 28, who was wounded in the arm, held shoppers and employees hostage for three hours before surrendering.
The two officers who shot at Atkins have been identified by the LAPD as Sinlen Tse and Sarah Winans. Names in the report were redacted, so it is unclear which officer fired the shot that killed Corado.
The five-member civilian Police Commission decided unanimously that both officers' use of lethal force complied with department policy. Moore reached the same conclusion in his report, stating that the officers reasonably believed that Atkins' actions "presented an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury."
Corado's father and brother have sued the city, alleging that the officers were negligent and used excessive force.
"How could shooting into the front of the store area on a weekend afternoon be considered within policy? It's a bad tactical decision," said John C. Taylor, an attorney for the Corado family.