A California Highway Patrol officer fatally shot Jesse Dominguez, a 34-year-old man, during a confrontation on Sunday on Interstate 105 in south Los Angeles County. The incident is currently under investigation by the California Department of Justice, as required by state law. The officer’s name and additional details about the altercation have not been provided by the California Highway Patrol (CHP).
According to the CHP, Dominguez was walking along the westbound lanes of the highway when the deadly encounter unfolded. A video captured by a passerby and posted online showed the officer on top of Dominguez as they fought on the pavement. The CHP stated that an officer responding to the scene attempted to convince Dominguez to leave the highway, but he refused, leading to a struggle. During the altercation, Dominguez allegedly grabbed the officer’s Taser and used it on him. In response, the officer fired his service weapon, fearing for his safety.
Dominguez was pronounced dead at a hospital. His family informed the Los Angeles Times that he was an aspiring actor who struggled with homelessness, mental health issues, and substance use disorder. They believed he was experiencing a mental health or drug crisis at the time of the incident.
The video of the shooting has raised concerns, with Dominguez’s stepmother questioning the use of force by the officer. The CHP has not disclosed whether they have a specific protocol for dealing with individuals wandering on the freeway.
The investigation will focus on determining whether Dominguez was armed and why the officer felt the need to shoot after disengaging from the fight. The absence of body cameras on highway patrol officers will likely be a factor in the investigation. The incident took place near a Salvation Army shelter, where people reported regularly seeing individuals walking on the freeway in search of bottles and cans.
State Senator Steven Bradford, Assemblymember Mike A Gipson, and Councilmember Tim McOsker, who represent the area where the shooting occurred, have called for transparency from the CHP. They expressed concern over the video, describing it as deeply disturbing and suggesting unnecessary use of deadly force.
Last year, law enforcement officers in the United States killed an average of 1,176 people, according to Mapping Police Violence. California has seen a 29% drop in police killings since 2013, but the number of such incidents remains high nationwide despite efforts to combat police brutality.