DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy was charged Tuesday with voluntary manslaughter for fatally shooting an unarmed 26-year-old man at a Norwalk 7-Eleven in 2016, prosecutors announced.
On Feb. 24, 2016, Deputy Luke Liu was on patrol near the convenience store. The previous evening, it had been the scene of a deadly shooting. But on the night Liu patrolled it, he spotted a vehicle that he believed was stolen out of Whittier.
Moments later, the deputy opened fire and 26-year-old Francisco Garcia was killed.
One witness claimed the deputy didn't have to open fire, and authorities didn't find a weapon at the scene. In a video, the witness said in Spanish that Garcia did not have a gun.
But Liu, who was working alone that day, said he confronted the driver who refused to answer his questions. The driver then got back into his vehicle and eventually accelerated, hitting Liu.
Liu then fired into the car multiple times, saying he saw Garcia reach for something in the backseat.
"At this point, the deputy felt a threat to his life and that's why he fired," Lt. Eddie Hernandez said in 2016.
Earlier this year, the county claims board recommended a settlement of $1.75 million with Garcia's family.
Liu, who had been on desk duty since the shooting, appeared in court and pleaded not guilty, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
"We believe the officer's use of deadly force was unjustified and unreasonable under the circumstances," District Attorney Jackie Lacey said in a statement.
The union that represents the county sheriff's deputies is expected to go to the courthouse in support of Liu, and sent out a letter to members to show support for him and his family.
LA County sheriff's deputy charged with voluntary manslaughter for 2016 Norwalk shooting