A 23-year-old Venice man was shot to death by Santa Monica police after he allegedly carjacked a vehicle in Santa Monica and fired a shotgun at officers during a pursuit that ended in Venice early Thursday, February 9th, police said.
Jeffery Smith, Jr., was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics at 5:20 a.m., a county coroner’s office spokesman said.
No officers were injured in the incident, Santa Monica police said.
Santa Monica Police Chief James Butts told television reporters that it was one of the “fiercest gun battles” he has heard about, but that he was proud of how the officers conducted themselves during the incident.
“It took a great deal of courage,” Butts said.
Police were called to the area of Tenth Street and Michigan Avenue in Santa Monica at 4:39 a.m., where a man told officers that he had stopped his vehicle to help someone in a white van that he thought was a driver with car trouble.
When the man pulled his car behind the white van, a suspect got out of the van armed with a shotgun, pointed it toward the victim and stole his black and red Dodge Shadow, police allege.
The victim was not injured.
Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Pacific Community Detective Mike DePasquale said the white van had been reported stolen in an armed carjacking that occurred Sunday, February 5th, in Venice.
Santa Monica police Lt. Frank Fabrega said officers located the Dodge Shadow at 4:55 a.m. in the area of Seventh and Broadway Avenues in the Oakwood neighborhood of Venice.
As the police car with two officers pulled behind to stop the vehicle, the suspect, identified as Smith, allegedly got out of the vehicle armed with a shotgun and fired at the officers, Fabrega said.
The suspect then got back into the vehicle and officers initiated a pursuit that ended when Smith crashed the vehicle into a building in the 500 block of Santa Clara Avenue in Venice, Fabrega said. Additional Santa Monica police cars arrived at the scene and surrounded the vehicle.
LAPD Pacific Area police were also called to the scene and arrived within two minutes to help set up a four-block perimeter of the area, DePasquale said.
The area was closed to traffic until the afternoon.
Smith allegedly got out of the vehicle again armed with a shotgun and pointed the weapon toward the officers, who fired at him, Fabrega said.
Smith then got back into the vehicle and officers gave verbal commands encouraging him to release the weapon and surrender.
But Smith allegedly refused to comply and again pointed the shotgun at the officers, who fired at the suspect, killing him while he was in the vehicle, Fabrega said.
LAPD officers were not involved in the officer-related shooting incident, DePasquale said.
The Santa Monica police investigation of the incident is ongoing, but the officers followed the police department procedures regarding officer-related shootings, Fabrega said.
“The officers’ actions were in line with department policies and procedures,” he said.
An independent investigation of the officer-involved shooting is being conducted by officials from the county district attorney’s office, according to Fabrega.
The officer-involved shooting incident occurred only one week after undercover Santa Monica police officer Walter Ramirez was shot in the wrist in the Pico Neighborhood of Santa Monica.
Ramirez was released from a local hospital and one of the shooting suspects, German Michael Espinola, has been charged with attempted murder.
The last time Santa Monica police shot a suspect was in June of last year when officers shot two bank robbery suspects in the Villa Marina Marketplace in the Marina area.
The suspects, who had allegedly robbed a Santa Monica bank, survived and were arrested.