In Proctor’s telling, he saw the homeless man reach for his partner’s gun and shot the man dead. But the partner told investigators that he perceived no such threat.
Investigators soon found surveillance video of Brendon Glenn being killed.
Here’s how Beck described to newspaper reporters what the LAPD discovered in their investigation, according to the Los Angeles Times: “Brendon Glenn was on his stomach, attempting to push himself off the ground, when Officer Clifford Proctor stepped back and fired twice, hitting the 29-year-old in the back.”
Absent video, criminal charges almost certainly wouldn’t have been filed. Today, multiple people who’ve seen the video say nothing happened that warranted a killing.
But Larry Hanna, the attorney who represents Proctor, said there are moments in the video when the hands of the man who was shot are not visible, and declared, “When an officer is making a split-second decision and he sees somebody going for his partner’s gun ... the officer’s perception is very crucial here.”
District Attorney Jackie Lacey, who has been withholding the video of the incident from the public, will ultimately decide whether to file criminal charges in the case.
Here’s the full statement released by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti:
As the District Attorney reviews this case, my hope is that Chief Beck’s recommendation is considered with the utmost gravity and that anyone found to have broken the law is held accountable. No one is above the law, and whenever use-of-force crosses the line, it is our obligation to make sure that that principle is upheld. Our officers perform heroic work every day, work that often goes unheralded. But accountability is fundamental to the trust that needs to exist between our officers and the people they serve—and maintaining that trust is essential to keeping our neighborhoods safe.
In contrast, the local police union criticized Beck for his statement, arguing that he should have refrained from saying anything at all to the district attorney’s office. Having collected dues from all police officers, the union is obligated to defend a cop who shot an unarmed homeless man in the back as surely as any other police officer. The light punishments that misbehaving officers typically receive due to the power of police unions arguably played a part in this killing–– one could argue that Proctor shouldn’t have been on the force at all given his past.
Here’s a newspaper account of a D.A. memo from 2012:
Proctor and another officer from the LAPD’s Pacific Division responded to a report that someone had committed vandalism and violated a restraining order ... At the home, officers spoke with Richard Smith, who said he had seen another man, Salvatori Avini, pull the wooden gate to Smith's driveway with his hands, breaking it off its hinges. Proctor verified that Smith had a restraining order against Avini, and arrested Avini on suspicion of violating that order and vandalism ...
When a detective reviewed Proctor’s report ... she noticed the arrest cover sheet included the names of two witnesses but no statements from them. She followed up with Proctor, who told her the witnesses were tow truck drivers who said they had damaged the gate to Smith's property.
When the detective asked why Proctor didn't include those statements, the officer replied it was because they conflicted with what the victim had reported... Proctor initially claimed a sergeant had directed him to leave the statements out of the report but later retracted that statement ... The detective pointed out that he still could have arrested Avini for allegedly violating a restraining order. The D.A. memo said Proctor responded: “That's a misdemeanor. I wanted him for a felony.”
Of course, what looks to me like a clear sign that someone can’t be trusted with the extraordinary power vested in police officers was, for many actual police officers, a transgression that seemed far too minor to warrant dismissal from the force.