Family sues LAPD over shooting of 16-year-old in Boyle Heights

BOYLE HEIGHTS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The family of a 16-year-old boy who was in a stolen car when he was shot and killed by police in Boyle Heights is filing a lawsuit against the city, claiming the shooting was unjustified.

Jose Mendez died on Feb. 6, 2016, after police pulled him over in a stolen Honda on 6th Street.

The Los Angeles Police Department said the driver of the vehicle pointed a shotgun at two approaching officers, who then opened fire, hitting him. Police say they called for medical assistance and tried to save the suspect, but he died at the scene.

Officers said they recovered a loaded 20-gauge shotgun with an illegally shortened barrel and altered stock at the scene.

The Mendez family, however, claims that Jose did not pose a threat to the officers and that video from the scene contradicts some of the information given by officers.

"Brandishing doesn't get you shot," said family attorney Arnoldo Casillas. "It shouldn't get you shot. What we know is that Jose in his conduct did not demonstrate anything that suggested that he was a threat."

Jose Mendez was a student and soccer player at Roosevelt High School.

The father of the slain teen wept as he held a religious statue during a news conference.

"It's not right...the officers must pay," said Juan Mendez in Spanish.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Police Commission issued its findings on the incident that the officers had acted within policy. But the report from Police Chief Charlie Beck also found fault with how the two sergeants and two officers handled the incident.

It said they failed to communicate with each other in advance about how to handle the person in the vehicle, and they failed to wait for backup before acting.

Officers also dragged the body about 35 feet from the car after the shooting and removed items from Mendez's pockets, when they should have left potential evidence undisturbed. One of the officers also failed to activate his body camera.

The redacted report says that they "substantially and unjustifiably deviated from approved Department tactical training, thus requiring a finding of Administrative Disapproval."

The family's attorneys want the FBI to investigate.
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