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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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1000|Char. 1000  Char.
rkristafr April 11 2014 at 6:03 AM

LA POLICE TRAINING- Bang Bang Bang Bang, ........." STop or I'll Shoot!"

Flag Reply +7 rate up
3 replies
jbdavidson April 11 2014 at 4:04 AM

Shoot first, ask questions later. Nice group of " veterans ".

Flag Reply +3 rate up
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.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
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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john April 11 2014 at 11:09 AM

LA Police and LA County Sheriff's are not the same.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
artdmainman April 11 2014 at 4:02 AM

This is totally unacceptable, the cop that fired that fatal shot should be off the force forever. Very bad judgement on the crappy officer. I hope the family of the victim takes the department to the cleaners on lawsuits.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
gojoe1402 April 11 2014 at 11:05 AM

I Know it's a a rough and wild world out there - But i relly think the police sometimes in a case like this one Could maybe have used the Taser - Now we have another good dead becuse of a mistake. That seems to be happing to often lately. How many police have to shoot to kill a man ? Sometimes seems like ever one shoota a once. There has to be a better way!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
Tom 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
pianomanjames April 11 2014 at 3:47 AM

"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." ..... pretty much says it all

Flag Reply +4 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
mmikebl April 11 2014 at 12:19 AM

I thought the police are to only shoot when they are threatened. How can a single man running toward police, without any weapon in his hands, be considered a threat? If a U.S. soldier made a mistake like this in Iraq or Afghanistan, that soldier would be charged with murder by the Obama Administration.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
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