WATTS — An investigation is continuing into an exchange of gunfire here July 25 that left an 18-year-old suspect dead and a police officer wounded at the Nickerson Gardens public housing project, an area that Police Chief Charlie Beck said has been beset by violence in recent weeks.
The shooting was reported about 11 p.m. at 112th and Antwerp streets, according to Los Angeles Police Department Officer Norma Eisenman.
Richard Risher, of the San Bernardino County community of Apple Valley, died at the scene, said coroner’s Assistant Chief Ed Winter.
Police described the confrontation as a running gun battle, but Risher’s mother said her son was unarmed and running away from an officer when he was shot.
“He didn’t have nothing,” Lisa Simpson told Fox11. “He was running and he put his hands up, and they still shot him. [The police] got nothing but guns on their hips. They don’t Taser you no more, they kill [you]. Ain’t no ‘Tomorrow you’ll be still all right,’ no, they takin’ your life away from you. And they gonna pay for this. They gonna pay for this dearly.”
A police officer was treated at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center for a gunshot wound to an arm, and later released. Beck visited the officer at the hospital, and wrote on his Twitter page, “I’m in awe of the courage displayed,” adding that the officer is “expected to make a full recovery and [is] in good spirits.”
Initial accounts “suggest that our brave LAPD officers endured a fierce gun battle requiring unwavering courage,” the chief said.
According to Eisenman, officers “were on extra patrols in the Nickerson Gardens community housing project” and they saw a group of people gathered.
“In the process of dispersing them, one suspect began running,” she said. “The suspect produced a handgun and exchanged shots with the officer.”
Eisenman said gunshots were exchanged as the chase continued, and the suspect and officer were shot. Police said a gun was recovered at the scene.
Officers from around the city helped set up a perimeter at the scene to search for suspects, but Eisenman said it appeared that the dead man was the only suspect.
Beck said there has been a rash of deadly violence in the Nickerson Gardens area that has led to stepped-up police patrols.
“Two weeks ago, we had a shooting between a gang that claims Nickerson Gardens and a gang that claims an adjoining housing development and that has led to three homicides and 11 shootings in retaliation back and forth,” Beck said during an appearance on ABC7. “So obviously the gang officers have been in there trying to quell the violence, you know, save some lives. And in doing so they make contact with a group of gang members, one of whom produced a gun as he fled, shot multiple rounds at the officers.
“Any loss of life is tragic and we feel for the family and the friends and all of that, but you know, … the violence has got to stop. This is not a way to resolve disputes. You cannot expect police officers to go into a community that is so beset by violence in these small pockets and come away from it without being involved.”
The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents LAPD officers, released a statement calling the death of Risher a tragedy, but said the shooting “demonstrates how unsafe many parts of Los Angeles remain.”
“When multiple officers are shot at for simply doing their job, it underscores the need for residents to redouble their efforts to work with law enforcement to address violent crime in their neighborhoods,” the statement said.