Prosecutors have declined to charge two Los Angeles police officers who shot and killed an unarmed man in Van Nuys after he threw a beer bottle through a window of their police car, authorities announced Monday.
Although the officers fired a combined 18 rounds at James Byrd during the 2015 shooting, prosecutors wrote, their actions were legally justified because they reasonably believed Byrd was armed with a gun and had shot at them.
No gun was ever found at the scene. Instead, authorities determined, Byrd shattered the police car’s back window with the bottle — a sound the officers and witnesses believed was a gunshot, prosecutors said.
“The fact that Byrd did not actually present a deadly threat when the officers reacted is immaterial,” prosecutors wrote in an 11-page memo outlining their decision. “[The officers] were entitled to respond to an apparent deadly threat with deadly force and they were entitled to engage Byrd until he no longer presented a threat.”
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