Originally published on June 29, 2015, at NationofChange.org
One week after an LAPD officer shot an unarmed man in the head, the department released the name of the officer on Friday. Police officials claim that the man had been walking towards the officer and his partner in aggressive manner with his hands wrapped in a gray cloth when the officer opened fire. Although it is standard procedure to handcuff suspects after shooting them, video footage clearly shows the man was unresponsive with a massive exit wound in the back of his head when they cuffed him.
At 6:35 p.m. on June 19, Officer Cairo Palacios and his partner were sitting in their patrol car stuck in traffic when they noticed a man standing on the sidewalk attempting to flag down the officers. According to LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith, the officers heard 48-year-old Walter DeLeon calling out to them saying, “Police, police.”
The officers claim that DeLeon walked towards them in an “aggressive manner” while pointing at them with his hands wrapped in a gray cloth. Believing DeLeon had a gun hidden underneath the towel, the officers exited their vehicle and reportedly ordered him to drop the gun. When DeLeon allegedly did not comply, Officer Palacios opened fire shooting him in the head.
After DeLeon immediately fell to the ground, the officers searched him for weapons but found that he had been unarmed. A passing motorist recorded a graphic video of the officers handcuffing DeLeon even though he appeared unconscious with a massive exit wound in the back of his head and blood pouring down his neck. One of the motorists can be heard in the video exclaiming, “Oh! I see his brain!”
Instead of administering medical treatment, the officers waited for Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics to arrive and transport DeLeon to a nearby hospital. DeLeon remains in critical condition and has not woken up since the shooting.
Police officials still do not know why DeLeon flagged down the officers before the shooting. According to Cmdr. Smith, investigators are looking into DeLeon’s background to see if he attempted suicide by cop or if he was simply asking them for help. His son, William DeLeon, told reporters that his father regularly walked around with a towel to wipe the sweat off his body.
“At first, I thought it was like a random person that did it,” William DeLeon said. “Then I found out it was the cops. I didn’t understand why, because I know my dad wouldn’t do anything to provoke it.”
The officers, who were not wearing body cameras and did not have a dash cam in their patrol car, were removed from the field pending the department’s investigation into the incident.