Police Commission rules against officer who shot unarmed man in Venice

By Gary Walker

A makeshift memorial to Brendon Glenn sprang up on Windward Avenue after the shooting Photo by Joe Piasecki

A makeshift memorial to Brendon Glenn sprang up on Windward Avenue after the shooting
Photo by Joe Piasecki

The fatal police shooting of an unarmed homeless man in Venice last year was not justified, the Los Angeles Police Commission ruled Tuesday in a 4-0 vote.

LAPD officer Clifford Proctor shot Brendon Glenn twice in the back, according to a county autopsy report, during a May 5 confrontation outside the Townhouse & Del Monte Speakeasy on Windward Avenue.

In a report to the commission, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said surveillance video of the shooting contradicted Proctor’s claims that he saw Glenn reaching for a second officer’s gun after the officers pushed him to the ground during a struggle outside the bar.

“When I fired the first shot, I remember, to the best of my recollection, his hand was on my partner’s … the top of my partner’s holster … left hand. … I was aiming at the back area,” Proctor told investigators of his decision to fire at Glenn, according to Beck’s report.

But in describing the video footage, Beck observed that “at no time during the incident can Glenn’s hand be observed on or near any portion of [the second officer’s] holster,” and that the video did not “capture any actions by [the second officer] that would suggest that [he] was trying to push Glenn’s hand away,” the report states.

Beck’s report concludes that Proctor’s use of lethal force was “not objectively reasonable and out of policy.”

In January, Beck said publicly that he believed Proctor should face criminal charges for killing Glenn. Whether to press charges, however, is up to Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, who has not announced a decision on the matter.

The head of the police officer’s union, meanwhile, has accused Beck of being too quick to publicly condemn Proctor.

V. James DeSimone, a Marina del Rey attorney who is representing Glenn’s family in a civil lawsuit against the LAPD, said the police commission’s vote confirms what he and a large number of Venice residents had already believed.

“What we have here is an absolute fabrication by an officer who is trying to justify the shooting of an unarmed young man. Thankfully, the video shows that Officer Proctor was lying when he said Glenn was reaching for the [other] officer’s gun,” DeSimone said.

Police have not publicly released the security camera footage of the shooting.

At a raucous community meeting convened the week after the shooting, many Venice residents called on police to release the video.

DeSimone hopes to get a copy from police soon. In light of the commission’s findings that the shooting was outside department policy, he doesn’t understand why police are keeping the video from the public.

“Chief Beck publicly stated that he went public [with his recommendation] to District Attorney Lacey to prosecute Officer Proctor because he wanted to be part of the national conversation,” DeSimone said. “If he wanted that to be public, doesn’t this video, which offers so much more, deserve to be part of the national conversation?”

The federal civil rights lawsuit filed by DeSimone and co-counsel John Raphling on behalf of Glenn’s mother and three-year-old son claims that Proctor engaged in “unreasonable use of deadly force” and that the LAPD maintains an “unconstitutional custom, practice or policy” of violence against the public.

In his report to the police commission, Beck describes Glenn as heavily intoxicated and his behavior toward officers as confrontational, with Glenn initially shouting racial epithets at one of the officers. (Both Proctor and Glenn are African-American.) The officers initially gave Glenn the chance to walk away from the area but initiated an arrest after Glenn got into a shoving match with a bouncer outside the Townhouse.

Beck’s report additionally faults both officers for failing to discuss tactics before initially approaching Glenn or later deciding to take him into custody.

“The officers’ decision to not communicate with one another or develop a tactical plan prior to making contact with Glenn was a substantial deviation, without justification, from approved departmental tactical training,” writes Beck.