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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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mindbender48 April 11 2014 at 11:36 AM

The police should also be charged, how many other "innocent" people need to die before the stupid ignorant realize the situation before shotting?

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Bill Jochimsen April 11 2014 at 10:41 AM

I'm sure the attitude of the police is: "Oh well, accidents do happen."

Flag Reply +6 rate up
harrymixon April 11 2014 at 12:38 AM

If this keeps up, the sheriff may have to give each deputy just one bullet and have him carry it in his shirt pocket.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
irishroyal317 April 11 2014 at 12:39 AM

Supposedly police are trained to deal with chaotic situations. What happened here is inexcusable and tragic. Rest in peace, John.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
matheneyg irishroyal317 April 11 2014 at 12:53 AM

Rip Wow Cops get paid time off John just gets dead. manslaughter should be in order but that will never happen. like you said John RIP

Flag Reply 0 rate up
sbjla April 11 2014 at 12:40 AM

"LA Police mistakenly shoot"...... That's what the front page link says..... cmon AOL.... not LA Police.... LA Sheriff! and where did the image on the front page come from..... two LAPD units and a LA City Fire Rescue Ambulance.... likely not even from this incident.... Public Safety services in West Hollywood come from the County.... not the City. I thought accuracy was important to the media..... guess not....

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2 replies
bill11w21 sbjla April 11 2014 at 1:24 AM

sbjla: "[T]he image on the front page" of "two LAPD units and an LA City Rescue Ambulance" came from coverage of the shooting of an LAPD desk officer at West Traffic Division of LAPD via Twitter@Sam_Schaefer. Too many of the uninformed or too-disinterested-to-research credit or blame Los Angeles for much of what happens between Ventura and San Diego. Remember the earthquake that reportedly shook LA on March 28th that was centered near Brea/LaHabra in Orange County, the next county east and south of Los Angeles County?

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Tim sbjla April 11 2014 at 5:37 AM

LAPD or LA County Sheriff. They are two sides of the same coin. A pig, is a pig, is a pig.

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dhank6933 April 11 2014 at 12:41 AM

Getting too many incidents like this, too many innocent people getting killed by the people that are supposed to be protecting them

Flag Reply +4 rate up
nicedeep April 11 2014 at 12:43 AM

Southern California Police and Sheriff departments are the most incompetent, corrupt, violent, ready to shoot for no reason and with intra-department race rivalry enterprises in the nation. It is a fact.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
1 reply
war3saw nicedeep April 11 2014 at 1:33 AM

NTPD gives them a run for their money when it comes to incompetency, corruption and violence.

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saegar1@yahoo.com April 11 2014 at 12:44 AM

As an Army MP, I've noticed a trend among civilian law enforcement to play "Soldier" when there job is to enforce the law and protect citizens, not kill people. Maybe if there weren't so many officers with an action movie attitude looking for trouble, they would have time to evaluate the situation so innocent people don't get shot.

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1 reply
dcsval saegar1@yahoo.com April 11 2014 at 12:54 AM

If you were really an Army MP, you would have more respect.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
2 replies
war3saw dcsval April 11 2014 at 1:32 AM

It is hard to show respect to these types of law-enforcers.

Flag 0 rate up
sdwood dcsval April 11 2014 at 7:40 AM

As a former Army MP of the 70's, we were trained in use of force which included the use of our night sticks. The night stick was to be used more or less to protect the bad guy from getting hurt. Our side arms were to be used as "Last Resort" to prevent others and ourselves from serious injury or death. Many persons are in Law Enforcement for the glory of the position, the pay and benefits and not to serve and protect the public. So many times I have asked todays police for directions or just questions and they act like why are you bothering me with a question. Just because some people may score high marks in written tests does not mean they make good cops. If persons are afraid to be injured during their duty shift and cause the death of a incident person, maybe they should find a new field of employment. Oops, sorry just does not make it. That's not for a professional law enforcement officer who is supposed to be trained, trained and trained to serve and protect the public, not to be feared by the public.

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spokajo April 11 2014 at 12:45 AM

Shoot first then seperate out the bodies later, nice policy There is no doubt that this will be a "justified shooting" and everyone who is still allive ( namely the sheriffs) moves on. What do they have Police Training Academies for? Might just as well grab someone off the street around 3pm, give him/her a badge, gun, patrol car and uniform and send him/ her out on patrol at 3:15pm. In the city where I live our police force has a "collective" case of "Wyatt Earp Syndrome" and will shoot to kill at the drop of a hat (literally). Sometimes they save a bullet or two by actually beating, hogtying and suffocating them to death.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
cdavecrz spokajo April 11 2014 at 12:58 AM

to tell them how to elude murder charges, take cell phones from citizens, beat people, and steal donuts.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
gotigersthomas April 11 2014 at 12:46 AM

Police officers need Unions ..... Cause without them most cops would be in jail before 10 years in force,

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
JR gotigersthomas April 11 2014 at 12:48 AM

you mean cops in LA would be. I lived there 40 years and dont miss a thing about the police or the sheriffs

Flag Reply +2 rate up
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