LAPD Officer Violates Policy by Striking Knife-Wielding Man with SUV

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has ruled that an officer violated department policy when he intentionally struck a knife-wielding man with a department SUV during an incident in North Hollywood last year. The civilian Police Commission agreed with Chief Michel Moore and an internal LAPD review board that Officer Oswaldo Pedemonte’s actions were a clear violation of policy.

The incident occurred in February when 31-year-old Jonathan Mitrani, armed with a knife, was walking towards the police vehicle after leading officers on a slow procession along Burbank Boulevard. Prior to the SUV maneuver, officers had already used a stun gun and a projectile launcher on Mitrani. Chief Moore concluded that Mitrani appeared intoxicated and did not pose an immediate threat to Officer Pedemonte, who was safely inside the vehicle.

The review board unanimously condemned Pedemonte’s actions, stating that the department does not train officers to use a police vehicle as an impact weapon. Chief Moore agreed with the board’s findings, noting that Pedemonte could have driven away if he felt endangered. Pedemonte drove the SUV at a slow speed, approximately 2 to 3 mph, into Mitrani, causing him to fall to the ground.

The incident began with a 911 call reporting Mitrani’s violation of curfew and intoxication at a facility where he was living. A request for police backup was made by a Los Angeles Fire Department dispatcher, who mentioned Mitrani’s possession of a knife and his apparent suicidal behavior. Responding officers attempted to engage Mitrani, but he ignored their commands and started walking away.

Four officers involved in the encounter were found to be late in activating their body cameras. Pedemonte’s decision to get into his vehicle to follow Mitrani was deemed not necessarily violating department rules by Chief Moore, who also found Pedemonte’s earlier use of a Taser to be within policy. Other police actions during the incident were either within LAPD policy or justified.

Officers found to have violated policy could face disciplinary action ranging from written reprimands to termination. The proposed discipline is protected by privacy laws and can be appealed before the LAPD’s Board of Rights, with further appeals possible in state court.

According to department rules, officers have a duty to intervene when they witness another officer using unreasonable force. Officer Geovanny Salazar and Sgt. Joseph Fleming attempted to intervene when they saw Pedemonte driving towards Mitrani. Salazar yelled for Pedemonte to stop, while Fleming repeatedly shouted “No!” However, Pedemonte failed to alert his fellow officers of his intentions when he entered the SUV and later struck the suspect.

In a separate ruling, the civilian commission determined that three Rampart Division officers were justified in fatally shooting Mariela Cardenas, who had pointed what appeared to be a real revolver at them. Although the officers were faulted for not seeking cover at times and using profanity, their use of lethal force was deemed within policy as they were unaware that the gun was a replica.

One of the involved officers, Jacqueline McBride, is the daughter of a police union official. McBride became the third member of her immediate family to shoot someone in the line of duty.

Author: CrimeDoor

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