HUNTINGTON PARK, Calif. (AP) — Authorities released audio and video Monday related to last month's fatal police shooting of a stabbing suspect near Los Angeles, while the man who was stabbed said the attack was random and that he initially thought he'd only been punched before realizing he was bleeding.
The stabbing victim was interviewed by Fox 11 in a hospital room where he was continuing his recovery following the Jan. 26 attack by a man using a wheelchair in the city of Huntington Park.
The Huntington Park Police Department released 911 calls related to the stabbing along with surveillance video of the moments before responding officers opened fire on the suspect who they said had threatened them with a large knife. The suspect, later identified as Anthony Lowe, was shot in the upper torso and died at the scene.
Police Chief Cosme Lozano said his agency is cooperating with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which is leading the investigation into the shooting.
“I emphasize that by releasing the video and audio recordings, it is with the goal of advancing full disclosure and transparency of the events that transpired from beginning to end,” Lozano said during a news conference.
The victim, a warehouse worker and father of four, asked that he only be identified by his first name, Ramiro, the news station said.
Ramiro described a random attack on a sidewalk in which, for a moment, he believed he had only been punched and then realized his wound was far worse. Ramiro said he was crossing a street when he spotted a man with both legs amputated at the knees get off his wheelchair. Ramiro said the man asked him if he was alright.
“I turn and look him, and I go, ‘Yes,’” Ramiro said. “And at that time, he just punched me.”
Ramiro said he hadn’t initially spotted the knife but then saw blood gushing out of his armpit.
Surveillance video of the stabbing appears to support the victim’s accounts that he made in a 911 call and then to Fox 11. It shows Ramiro walking past a gas station when he is approached by a man with both legs amputated at the knees. The man strikes Ramiro in the side and then scrambles away.
When responding officers approached the suspect minutes later, he pulled out a foot-long (30 cm) knife and tried to throw it at them, according to a sheriff’s department statement.
The officers used a stun gun on him, and the man again tried to throw the knife, “at which time an officer-involved shooting occurred,” the statement said.
In the surveillance video, which has no audio, an officer overturns the wheelchair that the man had gotten back into, and he tumbles to the sidewalk. He leaves the wheelchair behind and scrambles along the sidewalk followed by three officers with their guns drawn. He turns toward the officers and briefly raises the knife before they open fire and he collapses.
The time between the stabbing and the shooting by officers was approximately 7 minutes, Lozano said. Huntington Park officers do not use body cameras, the chief said.
The officers involved in the shooting were placed on administrative leave during the investigation.
Ramiro said the knife had punctured and collapsed his lung, but doctors were concerned that it may have also struck his heart.
Fox 11 reported that Ramiro said he feels sorry for the stabbing suspect’s family but does not have compassion for the suspect.
“I’m the victim," he said. “Why should I feel compassion to someone that does that sort of thing?”
Lowe’s family and community activists held a news conference last week demanding the officers who killed him be prosecuted. At another news conference Monday, attorneys for Lowe's relatives questioned the officers' decision to open fire.
“Surely, there were non-deadly options. He was going nowhere,” attorney Eric Dubin said.
Lowe’s older sister, Yatoya Toy, said last week that Anthony's legs were amputated last year after an altercation with law enforcement in Texas, the Los Angeles Times reported. The family, she said, also has questions about that incident.
Sheriff’s officials didn’t have additional details on the Huntington Park investigation Monday. The sheriff’s department and the district attorney's office typically investigate law enforcement shootings in the county to determine if officers should face discipline or criminal charges.