Lead Story West Edition

Hawthorne shooting suspect can stand trial

HAWTHORNE — The lawyer for a gun- and knife-wielding man who is accused of wounding a police officer here last month said his client should be found not guilty of injuring the officer after he fired back during an officer-involved shooting.

Attorney Aaron Spolin said a doctor evaluated his client, Nonyere Gregory Ofoegbu, a Nigerian national, Dec. 6 and found him able to stand trial after Spolin argued for a mental competency hearing. Neither the attorney nor the prosecuting district attorney opposed the finding.

A judge at the Airport Courthouse confirmed the doctor’s evaluation Dec. 7 and Ofoegbu pleaded not guilty to the attempted murder charge.

The story began Nov. 19, when police arrived at a Public Storage facility on West Rosecrans Avenue.

According to police reports, Ofoegbu had rented a storage unit at the facility, but was trying to live there, something that is not allowed.

Officers arriving on the scene found Ofoegbu, who they say was wielding a gun and a machete. Police shot at Ofoegbu, wounding him. He shot back, hitting Hawthorne officer Larry Williams twice in the right leg. Both men were hospitalized.

Hawthorne Police said that Williams was making progress in his recovery and that his right femur had been replaced with a metal rod. As of Nov. 24, the officer was moving around a little with the use of crutches. Police posted a picture of Williams and a K-9 officer smiling and showing thumbs up.

The suspect’s lawyer said Ofoegbu shot back at police in self-defense.

“It appears that he was in a storage locker that was partially closed,” Spolin said. “He couldn’t see who was outside shouting at him. We are currently seeking the video surveillance, which may confirm that my client did not fire the first shot.”

Spolin said he is using the self-defense argument for Ofoegbu’s case because instructions to California jurors say that a not-guilty verdict is required “if a defendant reasonably believed that he was in imminent danger of being killed, reasonably believed that the immediate use of deadly force was necessary, and used no more force than necessary.”

Ofoegbu is in custody at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility. His next court date is Jan. 5 in Department 31 of the Airport Courthouse.