Bodycam video released of LA sheriff's deputy fatally shooting woman in front of child

Michelle Fisher Image
Saturday, December 30, 2023
Video released of LA deputy fatally shooting woman in front of child
The L.A. County Sheriff's Department released bodycam video of when a deputy shot and killed a 27-year-old woman who called for help in a domestic dispute.

LANCASTER, Calif. (KABC) -- The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Friday released bodycam video of when a deputy shot and killed a 27-year-old woman who called for help in a domestic dispute.

Niani Finlayson was fatally shot Dec. 4 after deputies responded to a domestic violence call at an apartment in the 2100 block of East Avenue J-8 in Lancaster, according to authorities.

The Sheriff's Department says she was threatening her ex-boyfriend with a knife when deputies arrived. Finlayson's family has begun the process of suing the department and county for $30 million.

In a 911 audio clip released by the Sheriff's Department, Finlayson tells the dispatcher that the man "won't get of my house" and "he will not leave me alone."

"I need the police here right now. No, cause he won't get his hands off of me," Finlayson says as she apparently argues with the man in the background.

Bodycam footage shows deputies respond to the scene and try to kick open the apartment door. Finlayson eventually opens the door and is holding an apparent kitchen knife in her hand. She yells she's about to stab the man, according to authorities.

Finlayson disappears from the doorway and into the apartment. As deputies follow her inside, Finlayson's 9-year-old daughter appears to tell them she was punched by the man.

At this point, deputies have their weapons drawn and see Finlayson next to the man. Finlayson appears to grab him with one hand as she holds the knife in her other hand.

Within a matter of seconds, one of the deputies opens fire multiple times and shoots Finlayson. She immediately falls to the floor.

"No! Why did you shoot?" the man yells at the deputies after shots are fired. The video ends.

The shooting happened as deputies were next to Finlayson's daughter.

Finlayson was taken to a hospital, where she later died.

Per California law, body-worn camera footage from a deputy shooting must be released within 45 days of the incident.

L.A. County Sheriff Robert Luna released the following statement on the release of the video:

"The Department released the body-worn camera footage ahead of the legal timeframe to demonstrate our commitment to transparency and the visual representation of the facts in this case. As the comprehensive review process continues the Department will gain additional insight into the incident with the goal of improving public safety."

The L.A. County DA's office is conducting its own independent review.

Authorities also released an image of the knife.

Finlayson's former boyfriend was arrested after the shooting on suspicion of child abuse and assault on a peace officer, authorities said. He was later released pending further investigation.