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NoHo neighbor disputes police claims on fatal shooting

October 9, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A man in North Hollywood was shot and killed by Los Angeles police after he pointed what officials say was a rifle at officers.

The shooting happened at Vineland Avenue and Valerio Street just before 5 a.m.

Capt. Peter Whittingham of the Los Angeles Police Department said they received calls about a man firing shots into the air in the area. Responding officers found a man fitting the description from those calls.

When officers confronted him, they said he was armed with a rifle, which the man pointed but did not fire at officers.

However, neighbor Miriam Barajas told Eyewitness News that the man, whom she identified as 47-year-old Julio Sandoval, was actually holding a BB gun - not a real gun. Barajas said Sandoval was the one who called police, told them he had a gun, and was waiting for them to arrive.

Barajas said Sandoval had been drinking and was depressed about his finances.

When officers pulled up to the scene, they told Sandoval to show his hands, and that's when the officers saw the gun and fired. Police shot Sandoval multiple times in the upper body. The number of rounds fired by the officers remains unclear.

Sandoval was transported to an area hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Barajas said it took a long time for the ambulance to arrive. Sandoval apparently told Barajas that he wanted the police to kill him, and that's why he called to say that he had a gun.

Neighbors said Sandoval's 22-year-old son was outside when police arrived, and told them before the shooting that his father was holding a BB gun.

"It was seconds - seconds - when they arrived," Barajas said. "They didn't give no chance to anything even though the son was screaming. In front of the son, in front of the wife, they shoot him."

"For us, it's painful because we don't expect them to just come and kill someone without trying to help the person, or trying to talk to him and see what's the problem," said Barajas, who added that Sandoval was the one and only person who called police Sunday morning.

Barajas said Sandoval was her neighbor for 12 years and was the godfather of her four children. She said he lost his job and tried to start a business that had failed, adding to his depression.

Sandoval leaves behind a wife and two kids, who were all home when the shooting happened.

Police said the two officers involved in the shooting have been with the force for a little less than five years, and they're based out of the North Hollywood station. The captain at the station described them as outstanding officers.

No officers were injured in the incident.

Vineland Avenue was closed between Valerio Street and Sherman Way as officers conducted their investigation.


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