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Police meet with community over shootings

September 25, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Amid a growing number of fatal officer-involved shootings, residents and activists met with Los Angeles law enforcement Friday night to discuss deadly force policy and shooting investigations. The focus in South Los Angeles was on the Los Angeles Police Department.Amid a growing number of fatal officer-involved shootings, residents and activists met with Los Angeles law enforcement Friday night to discuss deadly force policy and shooting investigations. The focus in South Los Angeles was on the Los Angeles Police Department.

It was a heated evening and emotions ran high as South L.A. residents voiced their concerns about shootings involving law enforcement.

"You've got to be the cops," said South L.A. resident Ethel Austin. "That's all. The sheriffs should be disbanded."

"It's not acceptable for our children, our brothers, our daddies, our uncles, our cousins, even our women, to be beat down, shot down like animals," said South L.A. resident Annette Brice.

It was just last week when 36-year-old Athens resident Darrick Collins was fatally shot by a sheriff's deputy after being mistaken for a robbery suspect. Collins, a father of two, was unarmed.

Last month another unarmed man was also shot dead by a sheriff's deputy, this time in Carson.

Thursday, members of the L.A. County Sheriff's Department sat patiently as a panel of civil rights activists demanded more transparency.

Friday evening, a representative from the LAPD showed up to respond.

"Sometimes perceptions are not founded in reality, but rumors float," said LAPD Sgt. Lloyd Scott. "So we try to go out into the community and make sure people understand as much as we can convey what really happened."

Last week, the Office of Independent Review agreed to have investigations of all deputy shootings involving unarmed suspects to be completed within 90 days.

Friday night, many agreed that a lot more needs to be done, and it shouldn't just rely on changes within law enforcement.

"Black people are killing black people," said Barry Bryant, South L.A. resident. "That's where the problem is."

"It's not just the police, it's not just the community, we all got to work together," said local resident Lily May Jones.

And just like they did meet with Sheriff Lee Baca, activists are planning to meet with LAPD Chief William Bratton in the coming weeks. Activists have also been invited by the sheriff's department to watch first-year recruits being trained with weapons at the academy.

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