L.A. Times Mentions Shooting Policy in Story on Officer Run Down by a Car — and Strains to Publish His Identity Despite His Undercover Status
To my surprise, in today’s story about an LAPD undercover officer run over by a suspect in a car, the Los Angeles Times has highlighted LAPD’s shooting policy, which prohibits shooting at cars used as weapons in most instances.
It sounds as though the possible effect of the shooting policy is very much a live issue:
Three officers were involved in the 8:30 a.m. incident near the intersection of East 4th and South Dacotah streets, said LAPD Deputy Chief Sergio Diaz.
The officers had been conducting surveillance on Ortiz when they saw him make an alleged drug sale near the intersection and then watched him pull his vehicle into a driveway in the 100 block of South Dacotah Street, Diaz said.
When officers attempted to arrest him, he backed out of the driveway, nearly hitting one of the officers who identified himself as from the LAPD, and then sped south on Dacotah.
At that point, the officers radioed [redacted], who was part of the surveillance team and stationed farther down the street, and warned him that the suspect was fleeing in his direction.
[redacted] identified himself as an LAPD officer and ordered Ortiz to stop, but the suspect ignored him and struck him, authorities said.
At one point, the officer fired his weapon at the vehicle, but it was not clear Tuesday evening whether he shot at the car before or after he was run down.
So, one officer is nearly run down but doesn’t fire. Another is run down, but we don’t know if he fired beforehand.
It definitely sounds like it’s worth exploring whether the policy tied the officers’ hands. And the story does mention the policy:
Tim Sands, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, said Tuesday’s incident is the latest example of an assault on a police officer by a suspect who used a vehicle as a weapon.
“The attempted murder today of an LAPD officer . . . is a sad example of the dangers officers face every day,” he said. “Attempting to stop a suspect in a motor vehicle constitutes one of the least predictable and, hence, most potentially dangerous of a police officer’s routine duties.”
At least 25 officers nationwide have been killed during the last four years by cars driven by crime suspects.
In 2005, the Los Angeles Police Commission recommended tightening a long-standing LAPD policy by prohibiting officers from shooting at moving vehicles unless another deadly threat existed.
The new rules followed the fatal shooting of a 13-year-old boy who had led police on a short car chase.
And had then run his car at police officers, and into a police car.
But kudos to the paper for at least mentioning the policy.
But big jeers to the paper for straining to learn and publish the officer’s identity, knowing that the department didn’t want his name publicized because he was undercover:
The LAPD did not formally release [redacted]’s identity because he works undercover, but several officials named him.
Did it ever cross their minds that LAPD might be right? That maybe it’s not a great idea to splash the name of an undercover officer all over the pages of the city newspaper?
The officer is not named in stories by the Associated Press (in stories here and here), MyFox in Los Angeles, the local NBC affiliate, the Long Beach Press Telegram, the local CBS affiliate . . . etc. etc. etc.
All these news organizations were responsible. They undoubtedly could have named the officer, but didn’t. (My post last night, quoting an L.A. Times article, initially named the officer until I realized the department wanted his name kept under wraps because of his undercover status — at which point I immediately redacted the name out of my post.)
As far as I can tell, only the smarty-pants people at the L.A. Times felt the need to blow the identity of an undercover officer.
P.S. Now that the officer’s name is in the paper, it’s really a pointless exercise to redact it from the post. I do it today more for rhetorical effect than anything else. In any future posts on this issue, I may not bother.