A week after Chris Garcia died in a Los Angeles police officer-involved shooting on an off-ramp of the northbound 5 Freeway, a makeshift altar for him continues to grow.
And so do demands by his family, friends, and the Pacoima community for the LAPD to release any body-cam video footage linked to the incident.
On July 4, a group of family, friends, and residents gathered at the site of the shooting to publicly call on the LAPD to be transparent. There is a petition on Change.org (https://bit.ly/3jLWh9Z) seeking 7,500 signatures demanding answers and the release of any video footage. At press time, more than 7,000 signatures had been collected
According to the Los Angeles Police Department, patrol officers from the Mission Hills station were in the area of Osborne Street and Laurel Canyon Boulevard at 9:58 a.m., on June 28, when they spotted a motorist allegedly driving recklessly and attempted to pull the vehicle over.
“The driver fled in his vehicle, resulting in a vehicle pursuit. The motorist drove northbound on the 5 Freeway and exited at the Terra Bella Street off-ramp, where he lost control of his vehicle,” police said in a preliminary report.
“After the vehicle came to a rest in the dirt section of the off-ramp, the driver exited the vehicle armed with a pistol. The driver pointed the pistol at officers, resulting in an officer-involved shooting. The driver was struck by gunfire and transported to a local hospital by Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics where he was pronounced deceased,” the report further stated.
Police added the “pistol used by Garcia was recovered at the scene and booked as evidence,” and that no officers or bystanders “were injured” during the incident.
An investigation of the incident continues.
Nataly Barrera — representing the grassroots organization People in Action for Community (PAC), which organized the July 4 protest — said at least one eyewitness “has come forward” saying Garcia came out of the car with his hands up and complying with the police’s orders.
“That’s why we want the release of the video,” Barrera said.
She said she was told LAPD policy prevents the release of body-cam videos for at least 45 days.
However, Barrera said, “That’s too long,” and could create suspicions of evidence tampering.
“We know there have been other cases where evidence has been played with,” Barrera said.
“How do you trust the police investigation by the same police? They need to hand over the evidence so there can be an independent investigation.”
Garcia Was a Baseball Player
Garcia, 26, was an avid baseball player. Several of the photos among the candles and flowers at the makeshift altar show him in a uniform, particularly one from the amateur team Penjamo.
He also played baseball at Arleta High School and Los Angeles Mission College.
The shooting prompted various responses on social media.
“Our condolences go out to ex-Mission Eagle and always a member of the Eagle family, Chris Garcia. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. Chris always put a smile on your face and was a hard worker,” read a tweet from Los Angeles Mission College.
Arleta Baseball lamented Garcia’s death on its Twitter account.
A car wash fundraiser is scheduled on July 10 from 1 p.m.
to 6 p.m. at 12336 San Fernando Road in Sylmar.
There’s also a baseball game fundraiser planned for
July 11 between Penjamo and Los Originales at
Balboa Sports Complex Park, 17015 Burbank Boulevard
in Encino, starting at 12:30 p.m.
Those wanting to donate to the GoFundMe account can do so
“Sad day for our Mustang family! One of our own has passed away today! Christopher Garcia played at Arleta and also helped coach our guys! Thoughts and prayers go out to his mother and his brother Geo Garcia. R.I.P Chris!” read the June 28 message.
Bianca Cervantes said on Facebook that, “If you knew Chris you know he was known for making people laugh with all his Smack talking & His love for baseball. You shouldn’t have went out this way (sic), we’re all still in shock. My prayers go out to Nate, Your Family and your beautiful Girl; my heart hurts knowing that she lost her soulmate, but the way you loved her is something not many people get to experience, your love for her always shined.”
A GoFundMe account (https://bit.ly/2V9M9xs) was established to raise $25,000 to help Garcia’s family pay funeral expenses. At press time, more than $13,000 had been donated.
“Chris was a grandson, son, brother, and a great friend who tragically lost his life. He had that type of smile that would brighten any room he was in. His amazing personality won over anyone who talked to him. He leaves behind great memories that will be forever cherished by those who knew him,” a GoFundMe message said.