A former Los Angeles Police Department officer will face no charges for killing an unarmed Black homeless man three years ago — despite, unusually, the police chief calling for prosecution.
Clifford Proctor, who resigned from the force in 2017, shot and killed 29-year-old Brendon Glenn in 2015. During a struggle, Proctor, who is also Black, claimed that he believed Glenn was reaching for his partner's gun. But both nearby surveillance footage and his partner's account of the incident reject this idea, according to Police Chief Charlie Beck, who called the shooting unjustified.
Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey disagreed. She told radio station KPCC in an interview that "there's no video taken from the angle where Officer Proctor was during the struggle. And so we don't know, or we could not disprove, that Officer Proctor didn't see what we think he saw, which is that there was some sort of danger that was occurring."
In a lengthy report detailing its decision, the DA's office said the facts of the case would not warrant a conviction.
"A duty to file criminal charges exists only when our office determines that the admissible evidence is of such a compelling force that it would warrant a conviction after considering the most plausible, reasonable and foreseeable defenses," the 83-page report reads. "That is not the case here."
In coming to that decision, the report cites Glenn's "movement and facial expressions" as being threatening. And while no one came forward to say that Glenn was reaching for an officer's weapon, no one said that he wasn't reaching for the gun either, according to the memo.
The DA's office has not prosecuted a police officer in a shooting while on the job in close to 20 years. And Police Chief Beck still believes this should have been the case to break the trend.
"I respect our D.A. very much. She is a personal friend," he told the Los Angeles Times. "But I disagree with her on this decision."
The incident began when Glenn got into an altercation with a security guard outside a nearby bar. Proctor and his partner engaged in a struggle with Glenn, which resulted in Proctor firing his weapon.
According to the DA's office, "[Officer] Kawahara placed his chest over Glenn's back, as Glenn continued to rise to his feet. Kawahara's right hand held Glenn's right upper arm area, as Glenn wrapped his right arm around Kawahara's right upper thigh.
"Proctor raised his weapon to a position along his torso and fired one round in a downward direction at Glenn's lower left rear flank. Kawahara released his hold on Glenn as Proctor fired a second round in a downward direction at Glenn's lower rear flank area."
In an interview with detectives cited in the report, Kawahara said he did not feel Glenn make any kind of contact with his gun or Sam Browne during the altercation.
"If it did happen, I didn't know. I didn't feel any movement on my belt," he said. "I – I didn't feel any jerking movements, and I didn't – I didn't see his hand, … I didn't see his right hand anyways go near my gun."
The security guard, identified as "Witness 3" in the report, also said he did not see Glenn reaching for anyone's weapon.
"Witness 3 indicated he did not know whether or not Glenn had reached for Kawahara's weapon, he just remembered Glenn "trying to fight — he was just resisting being arrested."
According to the security guard, after the incident, he walked inside the bar and was followed by Proctor, who said, "Mario, Mario, you saw it. … You saw it. Like, he reached for my weapon." He reportedly told Proctor, "I didn't see sh*t."
An attorney for Glenn's family suggested there was a conflict of interest in letting the DA determine whether or not charges be filed.
"This is the type of case where a jury should decide whether Officer Clifford Proctor is guilty, not the district attorney," V. James DeSimone, the lawyer, said, according to the LA Times.
Separately, Proctor currently faces domestic violence charges involving two women. Proctor maintains his innocence.