Authorities on Thursday said officers acted lawfully when they shot and killed a man who was holding his 7-month-old daughter while armed with a knife during an eight-hour standoff in Covina.
The incident unfolded on Nov. 26, 2017, after 22-year-old Daniel Navarro got into an argument with his ex-girlfriend, identified by authorities only as Mia G.
The two were in the woman’s car, with their child in the back seat.
“Navarro grabbed the steering wheel and turned the Scion into oncoming traffic,” the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office said in a report. “Mia G. fought to regain control of the Scion and was able to turn into Wingate Park.”
The car stopped abruptly, blocking oncoming traffic.
The man got out, tried to open the woman’s door, then went to get the baby from the backseat. At that point, Mia G. told him she would call police and Navarro threatened to shoot her and himself if police responded, the woman told authorities. Navarro then showed her that he had a large box cutter knife tucked into his waistband, authorities said.
A Covina Police Department officer spotted the vehicle blocking traffic and approached.
The officer saw the woman trying to push Navarro out the car and asked the two if everything was alright. While Navarro replied with “yes,” Mia G. yelled “No!” and started screaming, according to the DA’s report.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s crisis negotiation team and additional officers responded and tried to order Navarro out of the car and to stop reaching for his waistband, the Attorney’s Office said.
Officers told Mia G. to get away from the car, and she complied, leaving the baby girl behind, according to authorities.
Navarro later pulled the knife out, which prompted one of the officers to use a stun gun on him twice, according to the report.
The man then “pulled the Taser darts from his chest” and closed the car door, the report said.
In the hours that followed, officers kept trying to get Navarro to surrender peacefully, while his family members spoke to him on the phone, the DA said.
At one point, he emerged from the car with the baby and “pointed his hand that was covered with a blanket towards his head, as if he was holding a handgun. Navarro also pointed his covered hand at the baby and towards the officers surrounding him,” the DA’s report said.
He then got back in the car and an officer later said he heard what he thought was the sound of a gun being racked.
Officers approached the car from either side and a “flash-bang device and less than lethal rounds were deployed inside the car,” which prompted Navarro to scream, kick his legs and flail his arms while holding the knife, authorities said.
“Officers believed Navarro was trying to attack them and stab the baby,” the DA’s report read. Then, “fearing for the safety of the baby as well as officers,” the officers fired their weapons into the car, according to the Attorney’s Office.
The baby girl fell to the ground underneath the carseat and an officer took her to safety, authorities said. The child was not injured during the incident, according the Sheriff’s Department.
Navarro was pronounced dead at the scene.
At the time of the fatal shooting, Navarro’s family questioned the use of force, saying he loved his daughter and would not have hurt her. Family members told KTLA that Navarro and his girlfriend were disputing the custody of their child.
“I never imagined that he would hurt anybody, his daughter especially,” Navarro’s aunt, Cecilia Hamilton said. “I just feel that the situation got out of hand.”
Family said they didn’t believe Navarro was a danger to his daughter.
“He wasn’t trying to use the baby as a shield. He was just scared. He didn’t know what to do and he just looked for comfort,” Navarro’s sister Rayanne said.
Another sister, Katherine, told KTLA that police could have shot Navarro in the leg, and they didn’t have to “overkill” her brother.
“They didn’t have to take him like that,” Katherine Navarro said, adding that she wants justice for her brother.