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LAPD shoots, strikes unarmed unhoused man as he walks away from them at Chesterfield Square Park

The newly released briefing video depicts Robles as non-compliant and claims officer Magallanes-Gomez shot him for pointing a weapon at officers, but body cam footage shows Magallanes-Gomez continued to fire at - and ultimately hit - Robles after he turned away and tossed the BB gun aside.

After LAPD officer Jose Magallanes-Gomez fired his first shot, Jose Robles turned his back to officers and began walking away from them. Magallanes-Gomez paused, then fired two more controlled shots at Robles’ retreating back. The third shot – which hit Robles in the hip – was fired after Robles had tossed his BB gun.

“Hey, don’t reach for it!” LAPD Officer Jose Magallanes-Gomez shouted at 35-year-old Jose Robles as Robles buckled and convulsed his way to the ground in pain from a gunshot to his right hip. “Don’t reach for it!”

The “it” he was referring to was the BB gun Magallanes-Gomez and his partner had seen Robles - who was walking away from them at the time - toss into the grass two seconds before Magallanes-Gomez fired his third bullet, striking Robles (see image at top).

Robles did not reach for it. Instead, per video captured by a bystander and posted to Citizen App, for an agonizing thirteen minutes, Robles alternated between sitting up, writhing in pain, and holding his hands and arms out as he waited for LAPD to approach him and render aid.  

An injured Jose Robles lies with his hands up, but police do not approach him for several more minutes. Image: Screengrab from Citizen App.

It's a very different story from the one LAPD has told in its official statements and in the critical incident briefing released last week. And it suggests that although Chief Michel Moore has made his exit, the department's predilection for using critical incident briefings to shield themselves from accountability - a practice which became an art on his watch - remains intact.

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Briefly, on March 7, 2024, LAPD was called to the area around Chesterfield Square Park in response to a report of an unhoused man who appeared to be brandishing a pistol. One of the responding officers – Magallanes-Gomez – shot him after a brief engagement in which the man was said to be noncompliant with commands to drop what later turned out to be a BB gun.

The BB gun Robles was carrying.

The initial statement LAPD tweeted out a few hours after the incident indicated a 911 caller had reported “a male Hispanic walking down the street with a handgun.” Strikingly, it did not initially include mention of the weapon found - an omission that usually signals whatever the man was carrying was non-lethal and that an exonerative narrative has not yet been settled on. It finally came three hours later, when the PIO tweeted, "The suspect's weapon was recovered at scene, and described as an STI 6mm BB gun" and included an image of the gun in the grass.

The statement the department released a few days later added a new claim: that Robles had pointed a gun - now described as "A BB gun weapon (in the appearance of a semi-automatic pistol) with a removable magazine" - at “an unidentified victim.”

Captain Kelly Muñiz, Commanding Officer of Media Relations, makes the same new claims in the briefing video. But the audio of the 911 call she provides appears to contradict the narrative about what the caller saw. The caller says Robles appeared to be brandishing a pistol in public - not at a person - and that he had appeared to point it "in the direction of the vehicles," without clarifying if he meant parked or moving vehicles.

The distinction is noteworthy.

In addition to being charged with two counts of PC 245(c) Assault with a Deadly Weapon (not a firearm) against a peace officer, Robles is also being charged with one count of PC 245(c) – presumably in reference to this “unidentified” member of the public. The claim he pointed a weapon - and one described as resembling a semi-automatic pistol - at a “victim” also paints Robles as a much greater threat, presumably to make it easier to justify an officer shooting at an unarmed man in obvious retreat.

Officer Jose Magallanes-Gomez is a 2020 hire. Image: Watch the Watchers.

The discrepancies don’t end there.

First, Muñiz condenses events, ignoring Robles' initial compliance and declaring that when the officers attempted to stop him, "he did not comply with officers’ commands to drop the handgun he was holding and pointed it at officers,” resulting in the shooting. She then states that Robles dropped the gun after being struck by gunfire - something which the body cam footage she provides appears to contradict - while also opting not mention Robles was struck while walking away from officers.

Here’s what the footage shows.

When the encounter begins, Robles is ambling in the direction of officers as they yell at him from behind the cover of their patrol vehicle doors. He begrudgingly complies with commands to take his hands from his pockets and show them to officers. They are empty. He raises his arms and holds them out to show he is not a threat.

Officer Jose Magallanes-Gomez points his weapon at Jose Robles as Robles (circled in white) holds his arms out to show he is not holding a weapon.

Magallanes-Gomez, a relatively recent hire, has his gun drawn and pointed in Robles from the outset and is more impatient than his partner officer. When he finally turns his body cam on (about 40 seconds into the encounter), he is heard telling Robles to get on his "fucking knees."

Robles' retorts about what he is being commanded to do are muffled, but he does not appear to be aggressive.

Then, about a minute into the encounter, after being told to get on his knees in Spanish by Magallanes-Gomez, Robles' right hand suddenly reaches into his pocket for his BB gun while he blades his body so his left side is facing the officers.

It is a tense moment. Magallanes-Gomez' partner - who LAPD has not named - draws his weapon for the first time.

Magallanes-Gomez is seen at right in the partner officer's body cam.

What Robles does next is very difficult to discern from the grainy footage.

While standing bladed with his left side facing forward, he points his empty left hand at the officers. Then bringing his right hand around, he swings the BB gun somewhat wildly across his body. His arms make an "X," almost as if he was wrapping himself in a hug, with the BB gun barrel pointed away from officers.

Magallanes-Gomez fires the first shot as Robles releases the "X" and brings both his arms together in the officers' direction. [At a very reduced speed it appears Robles pointed both arms/hands at the officers, but it is not clear what direction the barrel of the BB gun is pointing in.]

In the briefing, LAPD provides a zoom-and-enhance that freezes Robles mid-swing (while his arms were still moving into the "X"/self hug position) to suggest there is no doubt Robles was actively taking aim at the officers.

LAPD's zoom-and-enhance freeze-frame looks incriminating, but it actually catches Robles while he's still swinging the BB gun around.

As soon as Magallanes-Gomez' first shot rings out, Robles deescalates himself, immediately turning on his heel and ambling away.

His back is clearly turned to both officers and the BB gun is clearly visible at his right side, pointed down and away from officers.

Almost two seconds pass.

Then Magallanes-Gomez fires shot number two.

This image from Magallanes-Gomez' body cam, time stamped 12:55:00, is of the second shot Magallanes-Gomez fired. Robles clearly has his back to officers and the BB gun is at his right side.

It is unclear whether Robles tosses the BB gun, drops it, or it is knocked out of his hand. As the second shot is still ringing out (below), it is seen landing in the grass, where it bounces and tumbles, suggesting it is rather lightweight.

Robles, now disarmed, keeps walking.

Robles' BB gun flies into the grass as shot number two reverberates.

In response, the partner officer deescalates, putting his weapon down. Magallanes-Gomez does not.

After a beat, he fires a third time.

In contrast to LAPD's narrative, this appears to be the moment when Robles is struck in the hip. He dives into the grass, where he will wait for nearly thirteen minutes for officers to finally reach him and render assistance.

LAPD has come under fire for not rendering assistance in a timely way in recent years. The critiques have prompted them to include footage of officers rendering assistance to the people they have shot. The briefing of the Robles shooting is no exception - it includes graphic images of officers examining the wound to his hip. But Muñiz does not address or even acknowledge the thirteen-minute delay. Instead, she says only that Robles "was taken into custody without further incident" and that he was transported to the hospital where he currently remains - over a month later - in critical condition.

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The role that delay may have played in exacerbating Robles' medical condition is unknown. What is known is what that delay looked like in real time to distressed observers and neighbors on the scene.

An area resident who captured the aftermath of the shooting and posted it to Citizen App is heard repeatedly asking why LAPD is not rendering assistance.

As more cars arrived, more guns get pointed at Robles, who continues to lay in the grass. Image: Screengrab from Citizen App.

As the minutes tick by, he also openly worries that the chaos LAPD is creating at the scene - including the very noisy low-flying helicopter he says makes it impossible for Robles to hear commands - will only result in further harm to the injured man.

The show of force he captured while panning the camera back and forth is astonishing.

One backup unit arrives. Then a second. Then a third and a fourth. Each new unit means more guns - so many guns - trained on an unarmed unhoused man who had been shot while walking away from officers.

Yet more units and more guns as officers prepare to apprehend Robles. Image: Screengrab from Citizen App

The videographer, who can be heard telling officers he works in mental health for the County, sounds beside himself. Robles had already shown police his hands, he observed. What else was he supposed to do?

"His hands is out, don't shoot him!" he implored. "He's shot. You need to help him."

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This is a developing story. Although the District Attorney did file ADW charges against Jose Robles, his continued hospitalization means he has not yet been able to attend court. The critical incident briefing can be found below.

Update 5/21/24: Jose Magallanes-Gomez' last name has been corrected; it was previously written as "Gomez-Magallanes" - the name provided in the LAPD's initial statement on the incident, but which appears to be wrong. We regret the error.

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