Pit bull charged at LA sheriff’s deputies responding to noise complaint. Armando Garcia-Muro, 17, restrained dog but was shot when it got loose
This article titled “Teen killed by stray bullet while police fire at dog during response to ‘loud music'” was written by Sam Levin in San Francisco, for theguardian.com on Friday 23rd June 2017 19.38 UTC
Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies said they accidentally shot and killed a teenager while firing bullets at a dog during a response to a noise complaint, marking the latest killing by US police to spark national outrage.
Officers were responding to a call about “loud music” early Thursday morning when a pit bull charged at the deputies and bit one of them, according to authorities in California. A 17-year-old, identified by family members as Armando Garcia-Muro, initially restrained the dog, but the animal got loose, prompting two deputies to fire from about 5ft away, police said.
Garcia-Muro was hit in the chest during the gunfire and later died at hospital, according to the sheriff’s office, which said it appeared a “skip round” had struck the teenager.
The death of the Latino teenager came at the end of a week of intense backlash across America about police treatment of people of color. Police in Minnesota released footage of the fatal police shooting of Philando Castile, a black motorist whose death was live-streamed on Facebook by his girlfriend.
Video and records revealed that the officer, who was acquitted of all charges, said he felt in danger because he smelled marijuana and fired at Castile after just 40 seconds, despite the fact that the 32-year-old school cafeteria worker was calmly responding to the policeman’s questions. New footage also showed that police subsequently handcuffed his distraught girlfriend in the vehicle with her four-year-old daughter, who tried to comfort her mother because, she said, “I don’t want you to get shooted.”
An incident in Seattle also sparked national protests after police shot and killed a pregnant mother of four inside her apartment in the presence of her young children after she had called police to report a burglary.
The death of Garcia-Muro, who lived in the city of Palmdale and would have been entering his senior year in the fall, was an “extremely unfortunate incident”, according to sheriff’s officials, who said five deputies were present and two of them fired around six to eight rounds.
“They need to be held responsible,” Tennia Barron, a close family friend, told the Guardian on Friday. “How does a bullet ricochet off the ground and hit you in the torso?”
“They really need to investigate this,” she said, adding that this was “no accident”.
After the 60- to 65-pound pit bull “aggressively charged” and bit one of the deputies, officers were waiting for paramedics and trying to corral the dog to prevent further injuries, officials said. When officers fired at the dog, the deputy who had been bitten was also hit by a bullet fragment and was taken to a hospital, where he was listed in stable condition.
The dog would be put down, police said.
The incident serves as another example of the potentially fatal consequences of calling police on communities of color. In a press release, the sheriff’s office labeled Garcia-Muro a “suspect” even though he was not accused of any criminal activity. Authorities also claimed that deputies had responded “at least four times” to the address for “loud music and gang activity” in the past two months.
Barron, 40, said she was outraged by the references to gang activity, saying Garcia-Muro had no involvement in gangs and was beloved in the community: “He was a happy, energetic outgoing kid. He loved to help people. If you asked him to do anything, he wouldn’t complain about it. He always had a smile on his face.”
Genevie Escobar, a 17-year-old best friend of Garcia-Muro, said he was at a friend’s house during the incident. She said she struggled to understand why police decided to fire at the dog.
“Why couldn’t they tase the dog? Why did they have to shoot him?” said Escobar, Barron’s daughter. “The cops should have handled this in a totally different way.”
Garcia-Muro was looking forward to graduating high school, Escobar said.
“Everyone loved him. He was a very positive person. He always tried to make people happy,” she said. “He really meant everything to me.”
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