In what can only be called a stunning and disturbing event, police bodycam shows LAPD officers shot and killed suspect Guillermo Perez, 32, reported to have been homeless, and the woman he’s holding hostage with a large serrated edge knife at her throat, 49-year-old Elizabeth Tollison.
It was reported that Perez had begun to cut her throat when police fired 18 times, killing suspect and hostage.
The officers involved were identified Tuesday as Police Officer III Eugene Damiano, Police Officer II Andrew Trock, and Police Officer Cristian Bonilla all of the Van Nuys Division.
The fatal shooting happened in mid-June in Van Nuys outside a church that provides assistance to the homeless, but the bodycam video footage was just released by the LAPD late Monday, July 31 on the heels of the latest instance where police killed a Trader Joe’s assistant manager Melyda Corado during a standoff with Gene Evin Atkins.
Wednesday it was reported that Tollison’s family was expected to announce they intend to sue the the City of Los Angeles and the LAPD for wrongful death, assault and battery, and negligence.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore said Tuesday that on June 16, the LAPD Van Nuys Division were responding to a report that a man had stabbed his ex-girlfriend who had been transported to the hospital with reported non-life threatening injuries.
Cops arrived and confronted Perez who was brandishing a large knife. Perez ignored repeated commands by officers to drop the knife.
Police fired bean bag rounds at him but he used a metal folding chair as a shield and again refused to drop the knife. Police shouted for him to do so at least half a dozen times or more.
Moore said Perez “moved away from officers and grabbed an innocent bystander who was standing nearby. Perez began to cut the innocent bystander’s throat with a knife. That’s when three officers shot at Perez to stop his actions and prevent him from killing the hostage.”
Cops fired 18 times and two of those rounds struck and killed hostage Tollison.
It was reported by ABC 7 in Los Angeles that police said Perez moved the knife in a “sawing motion against her throat and cut her throat.”
Local media reported that Chief Moore said that “hostages’ lives are a priority and recruits are generally taught to use a ‘precise head shot.'”
An investigation will be conducted Moore told local media to determine if the officers followed hostage training and policy.
In its initial statement from June well before the July 31 release of the bodycam the LAPD described the incident:
Police arrived at the Central Lutheran Church which offers services for the homeless and found Perez “…holding a large serrated knife. Perez approached the officers as they emerged from their vehicles and the officers immediately attempted to de-escalate the situation by verbally directing Perez to drop the knife. Perez, however, ignored the officers’ directions and continued to approach.”
The statement continued, “An officer equipped with a less-lethal, beanbag shotgun fired at Perez who deflected two of the rounds using a folding chair and then ran in the opposite direction. As Perez ran from the officers he grabbed a woman standing next to a nearby building. Perez then pushed the woman in between himself and the officers, raised the serrated knife, and pressed it against the woman’s neck. At this point three officers fired their handguns at Perez who was hit by the gun fire and fell to the ground. Tragically, Perez’s hostage was also struck by gunfire and collapsed.”
Perez and Tollison, who was not named at the time, were transported to local hospitals where they both died.
Chief Moore said he and the “Board of Police Commissioners and the Office of the Inspector General to determine the thoroughness and accuracy of the investigation and whether the use of deadly force complied with the LAPD’s policies and procedures. Additionally, representatives from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office who responded to the scene will review the subsequent FID investigation; evidence collected and witness statements to determine if the force used by the officer(s) violated any criminal laws.”