Community Forum with LAPD on the Shooting and Killing of Dale Garrett
On June 2, 2011, a public forum was held between representatives of the LAPD and downtown community residents. Members of the community, seeking answers and explanations for the excessive use of force that led to Mr. Garrett’s death, filled the venue to capacity and were joined by Captain Todd Chamberlain (Central Division), Captain John Sherman (Central Bureau), Captain Kris Pitcher (Force Investigation Division), Nicole Bershon (Inspector General) and a number of other LAPD officers. The forum was a demand given to LAPD by residents two days after undercover LAPD officers shot and killed Dale Garrett in broad daylight on the busy corner of 5th and Spring on May 10th.
Answering another community demand, the names and current status of the officers involved were released. Detectives Kitsmil and Gamboa, while initially on “days off” following the incident, have since returned to desk duty and, according to Captain Chamberlain, are likely to work on desk duty or could even return to field duty during the investigation.
Captain Chamberlain also provided the room with what he called “the facts” of the investigation so far. According to LAPD, around 12:20pm on May 10, undercover LAPD officers approached Mr. Garrett to purchase narcotics. “For whatever reason,” said Chamberlain, the deal “went bad,” at which point Garrett produced a “large edged weapon” (later repeatedly described as “an 8 inch saw”). Detectives Ronald Kitsmil and/or Arthur Gamboa reacted to this by shooting Mr. Garrett in the chest. Chamberlain then said that Garrett was “transferred immediately” to get medical attention.
It is very important to note here that this portrayal of the events contradicts numerous eyewitness accounts from downtown residents, some of whom have stated that Mr. Garrett was unarmed and others who have stated that, rather than calling for the paramedics immediately, officers allowed Mr. Garrett to remain lying on the ground, handcuffed, bleeding to death well after the incident occurred. Attendees, including witnesses, pointed out these discrepancies and demanded that LAPD stop discussing the use of the knife as part of “the facts” to date, since it is contested by numerous witnesses who have given official statements to LAPD investigators.
After hearing from the LAPD, community residents were finally given an opportunity to ask questions. A substantial discussion ensued, with residents expressing their anger over the shooting, asking key questions, and making demands. By the end of the meeting, many residents shared their frustrations with the lack of honesty on the part of LAPD. However residents also reiterated that the forum, a direct result of community demands, was an important part of ensuring LAPD accountability. The releasing of the officers names, for example, was a listed demand given to Central Division by community residents. And, if residents made one thing clear to LAPD, it was that the community will not stop asking questions and organizing until the killing of Dale Garrett receives the answers and justice it deserves.