The Los Angeles county District Attorney’s Office has declined to file charges in four deadly officer-involved shootings — two of them involving cases in the San Fernando Valley, as outlined in documents released by the office on Wednesday, Sept. 12.
On Oct. 8, 2017 in the City of San Fernando, resident Albert Garcia was fatally shot by SFPD Sgt. Paul Ventimiglia, and Officers Benny Simonzad and Jeffrey Pak, following a 9-1-1 call of a woman screaming inside an apartment building.
The officers used a ram to break through the door, which had a strap rigged to prevent it from unlocking. Garcia wielded a butcher knife as he stepped toward the officers, who fired at him, according to information supplied by the SFPD to the district attorney’s office.
Prosecutors concluded the sergeant and two officers were “reasonable when they used deadly force against Garcia in lawful self-defense” of themselves, the other officers and Garcia’s girlfriend, who had suffered an injury to her neck.
SFPD Chief Tony Vario, who is on vacation in Budapest, Hungary and talked to the San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol by phone, said the incident was “a terrible thing for both sides to go through. But the officers did what they needed to do. Unfortunately they had to use the force they used. But it was dictated by the suspect’s actions.”
When asked if department officers were wearing body cameras, Vario said the department does not have such equipment. “It’s a cost issue,” the chief said. “The cameras are expensive but the real cost is video storage space. The first step for us is the purchase of audio recorders. Then, hopefully down the road we will get some money for body cameras.”
On April 30, 2016, Marion Jose Aquino Habana was fatally shot following a 9-1-1 call that he was assaulting his girlfriend in the locked bedroom of a Panorama City home.
Habana charged toward Los Angeles Police Department Officer Jesse Murphy while holding a large kitchen knife in each hand, as Murphy and another officer, David Lagesse, simultaneously fired at him, according to the report on the shooting, which was ruled to be “lawful” defense and self-defense.