Lead Story Local News West Edition

Witness disputes police version of Crenshaw District shooting

LOS ANGELES — A woman who said she witnessed Wednesday’s fatal officer-involved shooting in the Crenshaw District is claiming that the victim was being chased by police officers with guns drawn before the officers fired three shots.

Courtyana Franklin, 21, told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday that she witnessed the shooting through a side mirror and rear window of her vehicle, which was parked in an alley near Marlton Avenue and Santo Tomas Drive.

“I do know for a fact she was not charging at them,” Franklin said of the dead woman, who has not been identified. “Those police were running. They were not trying to get away from her.”

Police have said the woman was armed with a knife, and that a knife was recovered at the scene.

Cmdr. Andy Smith of the Los Angeles Police Department told the newspaper that Franklin’s account was at odds with the initial investigation into the shooting, though he did say officers chased the woman down the alley.

Smith said investigators had spoken with at least one other witness and want to interview Franklin to find out what she saw. He added that police are seeking any video evidence that might exist, though officers were not wearing body cameras and it was unclear what was captured by their patrol car cameras.

The victim, believed to be in her 30s, was shot after officers were dispatched to the 3700 block of Santa Rosalia Drive on a robbery report at about 1:40 p.m. Wednesday, according to the LAPD’s media relations office.

Around 2 p.m., officers saw a woman matching the description of the suspect in an alley west of Marlton Avenue, said LAPD Officer Nuria Vanegas.

“Officers tried to detain the female, at which time an officer-involved shooting occurred,” she said, adding that a Taser was deployed before the shooting and the woman was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Times reported police found a Taser cartridge in the alley, which they said was an indication the device had been used.

At a press conference Thursday morning near the shooting scene, Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, said the department should quickly explain why the shooting happened and if other tactics could have been deployed.

“Make this a high-priority investigation. Answer some of the questions people have about the shooting,” Hutchinson told NBC4.