A 37-year-old woman was shot dead at close range by the LAPD in broad daylight on September 28. The police say that Norma Guzman had been threatening them with a knife. She has been described as “mentally ill” by her family, who are also maintaing that she wasn’t armed. Meanwhile, an LAPD spokesman, Sgt. Frank Preciado, told the media that a knife with an eight-inch blade has been recovered from the scene in South Los Angeles. The gunfire broke out at about 9:30 a.m. near East 22nd and San Pedro streets. That area has become a shrine to Norma Angelica Guzman.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. A Witness Said the Officers Didn’t Attempt to Use ‘Non-Lethal Force’
CBS Los Angeles reports that Guzman was homeless and prone to large screaming fits that alarmed people in her neighborhood, Central City. One resident said Guzman had recently asked him for money at a nearby park, when he refused, he said she threatened him with a knife. A witness to the shooting, Erik Carillo, told NBC Los Angeles that neither cop attempted non-lethal force in the incident, saying “As the police approached her she had a knife in her hand. They kept yelling, ‘Put down the knife, put down the knife.’ The lady did not approach them. She did not let go of the knife.'”
2. One of the Cops Is a ‘Training Officer,’ the Other Is ‘Probationary’
The station says that a resident called the LAPD when Guzman began waving her knife around. The two responding officers had a brief standoff with Guzman that resulted in the woman being shot dead. Both cops opened fire on her. The Los Angeles Times reports that one of the cops is a “probationary officer” and the other is a “training officer.” According to LAPD Online, a probationary officer is “placed under the supervision of a higher ranking officer” while they wait to advance to being a Police Officer II, a non-probationary position.
3. The 2 Cops Had Previous Contact With Guzman
In speaking to CBS Los Angeles, Sgt. Preciado said that he’s heard rumors that the two cops involved in the shooting had contact with Guzman in the past. Neither of the officers were injured during the incident. Both have been taken off the streets while the shooting is investigated. The two were both wearing body cameras which are being examined. After the shooting, L.A. Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey said that Guzman was rushed to a nearby hospital where she was pronounced dead.
4. Residents of Guzman’s Neighborhood Called Her ‘Harmless’
Guzman was a drug user, reports ABC Los Angeles. Residents of Central City told that station that she was always seen around the area, armed with a “bread knife” and that Guzman was “harmless.”
5. She’s the 17th Person to Be Killed by the LAPD This Year
The Los Angeles Times reports that this is the “third fatal LAPD officer-involved shooting this month.” In 2015, LAPD officers have killed 17 people while wounding another 14 people. The two cops involved in the Guzman shooting will be investigated by the independent inspector general, the Police Commission and the district attorney. You can watch a BBC documentary about the more aggressive side of the LAPD above.