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Los Angeles County deputies shoot unarmed man

TV Production Assistant Mistakenly Shot and Killed by Police


By ROBERT JABLON

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies mistakenly shot to death a hostage who was fleeing from a knife-wielding attacker at a West Hollywood apartment, authorities announced Thursday.

John Winkler, 30, an aspiring television producer, died at a hospital following Monday night's confrontation.

"Taking the life of an innocent person is a police officer's greatest nightmare," Interim Sheriff John Scott said at a news conference.

The entire department mourned Winkler's death, he added.

Winkler was "hanging out" with some friends who lived in the apartment below him on Palm Avenue when a man who also lived in that apartment took them hostage at knifepoint, authorities said.

Alexander McDonald climbed over a balcony into his own home with a 10-inch butcher knife, authorities said.

He was "in an incoherent state of mind, seemed very paranoid, which was uncharacteristic," sheriff's homicide Lt. David Coleman said. He took his roommate, Winkler and another man hostage, then flew into a rage and began stabbing and fighting with them, authorities said.

Scott said deputies received a panicky 911 call that someone was threatening residents with a knife and went to the apartment, where they were told the attacker was a thin man in a black shirt.

Deputies announced themselves and pounded on the door and at that moment one of the stabbing victims took the opportunity to escape, Coleman said.

"The door suddenly opened and a man with blood spurting form his neck entered the doorway." Scott said.

Winkler also ran out, behind but nearly on top of the other man, authorities said.

Deputies, noting his thin build and black shirt, mistook Winkler for the suspect and thought he was continuing to attack the other man, Coleman said.

Three deputies fired four shots. Winkler was hit once and mortally wounded. The other man was hit in the leg and was hospitalized in stable condition, authorities said.

Deputies burst into the apartment and allegedly saw McDonald choking a man on the floor. That man was treated for stab wounds and other injuries and released, according to a Sheriff's Department statement.

McDonald, 27, was treated for minor injuries. County prosecutors have charged him with torture, murder and two counts of attempted murder. He remained jailed Thursday.

"We don't know what caused his rage or what caused his outburst," or whether drugs were involved, Coleman said.

Winkler had moved to West Hollywood from Washington state six months ago to work in the entertainment industry, his friend, Devin Richardson, told the Los Angeles Times.

The deputies, all department veterans, were removed from patrol after the shooting but were expected to return to full duty next week, sheriff's officials said.

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zygi & paris April 11 2014 at 8:48 AM

Stupidity wins again.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
MBC April 11 2014 at 11:02 AM

These L.A. cops are always in the news for some stupid blunder harming innocent people. Must be something in the air that causes stupidity there

Flag Reply +5 rate up
frlogatto April 11 2014 at 9:20 AM

wow that stinks

Flag Reply +1 rate up
donstillings April 11 2014 at 10:58 AM

They shot him because they thought he was a homeless man.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
onyota1 April 11 2014 at 9:24 AM

To quick with the trigger finger , seem to be a lack of fire range pratice also.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
mentalimagry April 11 2014 at 10:51 AM

Seems like the only people in California that can't be relied upon for firearms safety are the Law Enforcement Officers themselves. Take the guns out of the hand sof the cops and put them back in the hands of law abiding citizens and you'll probably see the death rate drop.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
waltersaucier April 11 2014 at 10:51 AM

one hostage killed one wounded i think i'll take my chances with my own con handgun.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
Rich April 11 2014 at 10:50 AM

they shot one victim with blood spurting from a wound, and he survived, then they shot another victim and killed him, the shooters (police) were removed from patrol (that will serve as a warning to other cops that shoot and ask questions later, will not be tolerated), what the hell kind of other grusome punishment can they inflict, no donuts for a week?..................

Flag Reply +4 rate up
Tom April 11 2014 at 10:47 AM

Was it LAPD or Sheriffs?

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
Brad Tom April 11 2014 at 11:23 AM

West Hollywood is Sheriffs. They have a good record of working in a sometimes very difficult city (West Hollywood). I don't know what kind of experiences these other writers have had with cops, but it sounds pretty awful.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
ejh2727 April 11 2014 at 10:46 AM

The first man was bleeding! Why would you shoot the man that was bleeding?

Flag Reply +3 rate up
1 reply
shindogdiggity88 ejh2727 April 11 2014 at 10:52 AM

The article said the guy they shot trampled over the man who was bleeding, and seeing that the man had the same build and a black t-shirt on, they mistook him for the attacker when in reality, he was just another innocent who was trying to get out.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
BOB shindogdiggity88 April 11 2014 at 11:07 AM

There are lots of men who are skinny and with a black t-shirt, so what! Idiot cops!

Flag +4 rate up
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