The LAPD said the incident started in the area of Plummer Street and Shirley Avenue near the Northridge Fashion Center just before 10 p.m. Wednesday. Officers attempted to stop a man who was driving erratically in a black Ford Crown Victoria. He took off and led them on a seven-minute pursuit.
When officers backed off, the suspect began driving more erratically, running red lights and almost striking pedestrians, according to authorities.
The pursuit came to an end on the 101 Freeway near Canoga Avenue when the driver appeared to make a U-turn into oncoming traffic. Officers slammed into the driver's side of the suspect vehicle. The driver jumped out the passenger side and pointed his hands at officers several times as he ran across lanes of the freeway.
According to police, the suspect exited his vehicle and took what appeared to be an aggressive "shooting stance" several times, extending his arms out, and pointing an unknown object at the officers. This caused the officer at the scene to believe he was armed with a handgun.
The LAPD said more than three officers opened fire, killing 19-year-old Abdul Arian. Police recovered a cellphone from the scene.
Thursday afternoon the LAPD released a statement stating that Arian was unarmed. He did tell a police dispatcher during a 911 phone call that he had a gun, and threatened officers.
"If they pull their guns, I'm gonna have to pull my gun out on them," Arian allegedly said, according to an LAPD transcript.
According to the LAPD transcript, Arian also told the 911 dispatcher: "I have a gun," and "I've been arrested before for possession of destructive devices, I'm not afraid of the cops."
"Clearly what he was doing during that altercation was assuming a shooting stance, holding some type of object in his hand and pointing it at our officers," said LAPD Commander Andrew Smith
"He had the phone with him. He was probably trying to tell LAPD, 'You know I'm on the phone with 911, don't shoot,'" said Hamed Arian, the suspect's uncle.
Asked if the officers on the ground were aware Arian was talking to a 911 dispatcher, Smith said: "We're looking into that now to see how much of that information was relayed by the dispatcher to the officers in the field."
Family members are in shock over the death. They say the graduate of Taft High School has never been in trouble before, and at one point wanted to be a police officer. But he developed a fear of law enforcement, which they believe played a role in his reluctance to pull over when police started chasing him.
"He came out from the gym, and he ran a red light. The police chased him, and while they were chasing him, he was calling 911, saying that, you know, 'The police are chasing me.' He was always afraid of cops," said Hamed Arian.
Family members say Abdul Arian did not own a gun, and they are convinced he was not armed when police opened fire.
"He was running from the cop when they shot him, and they didn't have to shoot him so many times. They could have used rubber bullets, they could have used Taser," Hamed Arian said.
Police shut down the freeway in both directions at White Oak Avenue for 10 hours while they investigated the scene. The California Highway Patrol tried to hold traffic back, but drivers ended up stuck on the freeway for hours within the crime scene, including a driver named Mike Moratti.
All lanes of the 101 Freeway in Woodland Hills reopened at 8 a.m. Thursday after being shut down for hours. Dozens of evidence markers were strewn across the freeway, many placed next to shell casings.
Northbound lanes reopened around 2:15 a.m., but southbound lanes between Topanga Canyon Boulevard and De Soto Avenue did not reopen until 8 a.m., causing major delays for morning commuters.