The fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by sheriff’s deputies in the South Los Angeles-area neighborhood of Willowbrook last week has led to the threat of a lawsuit and outrage on social media — including emotional pleas from an L.A. rapper to the city’s mayor.
Ryan Twyman, a father of three, was shot dead in the parking lot of an apartment complex at San Pedro and 132nd streets on the evening of June 6. Deputies had approached a car Twyman was inside just before firing shots, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
The 24-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene. He was still inside a vehicle when he died of multiple gunshot wounds, according to coroner’s officials.
Speculation about the number of times Twyman was shot has surfaced in dozens of social media posts in the days since. But the Sheriff’s Department has released few details — no information about how many times he was shot and no description of any crime he may have been suspected of.
The department has, however, confirmed that no weapon was found at the scene.
A brief statement emailed by department spokesman Hamilton B. Underwood expresses condolences to Twyman’s family and states the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office is expected to investigate.
But many questions remain unanswered as the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner has still not released its findings.
Meanwhile, multiple witnesses have recalled seeing two deputies approach the parked car before shooting several times.
“The police opened the door, and said he had a gun and just started shooting. Never asked him his name — nothing. Just started shooting,” said one witness, who would not give his name.
Another witness, who also wished to speak anonymously, said deputies said little before they started shooting: “One officer goes up to the door, starts firing, never identified himself as the police … still unloading on the car 30 rounds.”
Outrage over Twyman’s death has been seen in posts across social media, some of them expressing anger over the shooting itself and others disappointment in how little information the Sheriff’s Department has released.
An Instagram post from Compton-born rapper The Game on Friday addressed Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti directly.
“I can remember us having a conversation about bettering Los Angeles awhile back on both sides of the ball,” reads the post, which includes a photo of Garcetti. “Well now I’m calling on you @mayorofla Eric Garcetti……. We need answers on how Los Angeles Sheriff’s could shoot my family #RyanTwyman 37 times while unarmed & murder him in cold blood ???”
“No one from your side has spoken a word on the matter & we will not let this slide or be swept under the rug !!!!” the post continues. “Los Angeles will not be quiet !!!!!!!!!!!!”
A day earlier, The Game posted a photo of Twyman on Instagram, saying the Sheriff’s Department has long had “tension” with black and Hispanic youth in the Compton area.
On Friday evening, loved ones gathered outside the apartment complex where Twyman was shot for a fundraiser to help his family with funeral expenses. There, his girlfriend of five years said she was feeling “broken,” saying Twyman was “nothing but great” to her and their children.
“I think everything is destroyed. Everything is ruined. Our plans, our life, our kids’ life,” Davielle Johnson said.
A GoFundMe page has also been set up to give financial assistance to Twyman’s family. It has raised a little over $6,300 as of Friday evening, six days after it was created.
An attorney representing Twyman’s family, Brian Dunn, said there will be a lawsuit filed alleging law enforcement officials violated Twyman’s civil rights.
“What we want is for this type of random killing to stop,” Dunn said.
Paulette Gibson, president of the Compton chapter of the NAACP, said she has spoken with multiple law enforcement officials about the shooting, including the captain of the Century Station. Gibson said the deputies involved in the shooting were from that location.
“We’re tired of this happening over and over and over but our goal at the NAACP is to make sure it’s investigated properly,” Gibson said.
Twyman was killed three days after his 24th birthday.
Two other men were also fatally shot by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies the same night.