A 21-year-old man was shot to death by Santa Monica police early Monday, September 4th, after he fled from officers during a foot pursuit on 21st Street and allegedly turned toward them while holding a handgun, police said.
The man, identified by the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office as Christopher Lamont Hunter of Los Angeles, was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.
The incident began at 12:11 a.m., when police were called to a nightclub at 2020 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, where a large fight was reported, Santa Monica police Lt. Frank Fabrega said.
When officers arrived, a witness told them that a man at the location was armed with a handgun, he said.
The man had been sitting in a vehicle in a private parking lot, and when officers tried to detain him, he got out of the vehicle and ran onto 21st Street, Fabrega said.
The officers then pursued the man on foot and saw that he had a gun in his hand, Fabrega alleged.
As police yelled orders at the man, he allegedly turned toward them while carrying the gun and at least two officers then fired and killed him, Fabrega said.
“They saw him turning with the gun in his hand, and at that point, they feared for their safety and fired,” Fabrega said.
Police said they recovered a handgun near Hunter’s body.
But some witnesses reportedly told Hunter’s family members that they did not see a handgun in his possession during the shooting.
Fabrega said that officers “clearly” saw that Hunter was in possession of a handgun and fired because they feared for their safety.
“It’s an unfortunate situation; however, the family members were not at the scene,” Fabrega said, of reports that Hunter was unarmed. “The officers followed the proper procedural guidelines set by the Santa Monica Police Department in regard to the use of deadly force.”
Police said the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office will conduct an independent investigation of the incident, as part of the standard procedure for officer-involved shootings.