The Torrance Police Department is expressing “shock” over the indictment of two officers in a 2018 fatal shooting that was originally deemed to be legally justified.
On Monday, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced that officers Anthony Chavez and Matthew Concannon each face one count of voluntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Christopher De’Andre Mitchell, 22.
Both have pleaded not guilty.
On Dec. 9, 2018, the officers were responding to a report of a stolen vehicle when they approached Mitchell who was in the driver’s seat of a Honda Civic in a supermarket parking lot.
Body camera video shows Mitchell refused orders to get out of the car. The officers opened fire when they saw Mitchell appear to move his hands toward a gun in his lap, which turned out to be an air rifle, authorities said.
In 2019, then-L.A. County D.A. Jackie Lacey concluded that both officers acted in “lawful self-defense.”
However, Gascón, who took office in 2020, assembled a team for an independent review of police shootings. The Mitchell case went to a grand jury that ultimately handed down the indictments.
“From my own personal review, I question whether the officers were able to see the gun before the shooting,” Gascón said at a news conference Monday, standing next to members of Mitchell’s family. “We know even the prior review indicated that there was no evidence he was reaching for a gun.”
“I’m looking forward to going to court and seeing (the officers) put in jail,” said Sherilyn Haynes, Mitchell’s mother.
Authorities say Mitchell was a documented gang member with a lengthy criminal history.
“Considering the facts as we know them, including the previous determination (the officers) acted in lawful self-defense, the revelation of the indictment comes as a shock to the Torrance Police Department,” the department said in a news release. “We acknowledge that due to the secret nature of Grand Jury proceedings, we are unaware of the entirety of the evidence presented to the Grand Jury, which led to the indictment.”
If convicted, the officers could face up to 11 years in prison.