LA Police Escape Charges in Death of Redel Jones

Several demonstrations are underway in protest of the unjust killings of Black people at the hands of police.

The latest follows the Los Angeles Police Commission’s decision that an LAPD officer did not violate the department’s deadly force policy last year when he fatally shot Redel Jones in a South L.A. alleyway.

Jones, an African American woman who was killed last year, died after police say she moved toward an officer while holding a knife. The LAPD said the 30-year-old matched the description of a woman who robbed a pharmacy nearby about 20 minutes earlier.

An employee at a Baldwin Hills pharmacy called police, saying a woman had just robbed the store. Footage from the pharmacy captured the robbery. It showed a woman walking out of the store with a cash-filled envelope. The Times viewed the footage and said a glint of a knife was also visible.

Initially, police spotted Jones during their search for the robbery suspect. According to a report, the suspect was wearing a purple scarf and baggy clothes — all of which Jones was wearing.

But a witness of the August 2015 shooting questioned why police opened fire. She told the LA Times that Jones was running away from the officers and never turned toward them. In a 3-0 vote, the Police Commission determined that the shooting was justified because an officer could reasonably have believed that Jones’ “actions while armed with a knife presented an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury.”

The panel, along with the city’s police chief, however did criticize some of the officers’ actions, including their talking to her while sitting in their cars instead of getting out.

The board also noted that initially, the officers failed to activate their in-car cameras and did not have a plan before approaching Jones. It was the first day the two officers worked together.

A written summary of the investigation did not say whether LAPD investigators interviewed the woman who told the LA Times that Jones did not charge the officers.

Shortly after the panel’s decision on Tuesday, Marcus Vaughn, Jones’ husband, delivered an impassioned response.

“You all stole her from me,” he told the board. Vaughn also said he wanted the officers prosecuted and for the department to change its policies from “top to bottom.”