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Vigil held for West Hollywood man mistakenly killed by deputies

Friends and family gathered in West Hollywood Sunday, April 13, 2014, to remember the man mistakenly shot and killed by sheriff's deputies.
April 14, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
Friends and family gathered in West Hollywood Sunday night to remember the man mistakenly shot and killed by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies.

John Winkler was fatally shot by deputies on the 900 block of Palms Avenue on April 7. The 30-year-old had been held at knifepoint before running out of the building with a stabbing victim. But when deputies arrived on scene, they thought Winkler was the suspect and opened fire.

Winkler had recently moved to Los Angeles and worked on the Comedy Central show "Tosh.0," according to the Los Angeles Times.

The victim's family issued a statement last week expressing sympathy for the deputies involved and asking the media for privacy.

"John was a kind, funny, smart young man, with a bright wit and kind word for anyone that he met," Winkler's uncle, Craig Dawson, said in a statement. "It is no surprise to us that he put his own life at risk to help a friend."

The family said they are trying to understand why deputies opened fire on Winkler.

"We know that shooting and killing an innocent man must be a horrible burden for those deputies, and they are in our prayers as well, as they attempt to cope with the circumstances of his death," the family said.

The stabbing suspect, 27-year-old Alexander McDonald, pleaded not guilty to one count each of murder and torture and two counts of attempted murder at an arraignment hearing on Thursday.

The district attorney's office said McDonald is charged with Winkler's murder because under the law, "when a defendant's criminal acts set into motion a situation where the natural and probable consequences are that a third party would reasonably respond with deadly force, the defendant is held responsible for the death."

McDonald is being held on $4.1 million bail. He is due back in court on May 8.

City News Service contributed to this report.


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