LOS ANGELES – When he watches the final moments of a man’s life, T.T. Williams, Jr relies on 50 years of experience – 30 spent on the LAPD, and then 20 more as an expert witness on use of force cases.
“You’ve got to analyze each shot,” Williams said.
We’ve asked him to watch a controversial LAPD shooting that happened April 22 in Newton. Officer Toni McBride was responding to a bad car crash when a witness told her the driver who caused the crash had a knife and was trying to hurt himself.
In the video, when the man emerges from the car, McBride tells him to drop the knife. He steps forward and she opens fire in front of dozens of people.
“That’s bad,” Williams said as he watched McBride’s bodycam video. “See all those people in the background? They could be victims of the shooting. Your background is very, very important. You are trained the first thing you should assess is your background.”
Officer McBride fired two shots and then four more. Daniel Hernandez, 38, died in the street.
“I’m critical from the first shot because there was no less-than-lethal that was deployed,” Williams said.
But the lawyer for the officer, Larry Hanna, sees the shooting a very different way.
“Any expert will tell you, you can’t let anybody get within 25 feet of you with a knife,” Hanna said.
Hanna says a man with a knife is an imminent threat to those around him. He said McBride didn’t have time to de-escalate the situation. He wasn’t sure if she had a less-than-lethal option available.
“I’m not certain. Most of them have Tazers, but again, a Tazer would not be appropriate for somebody with a knife coming at you,” Hanna said.
“When he’s down and trying to get up, there’s no threat. He’s just trying to get up,” Williams said. “He gets shot twice. Then, he gets shot an additional two times when he’s on the ground. Again, where’s the threat?”
Williams says while the law and policies have changed since he was at the LAPD, some officers are still too quick to draw their weapons.
“The culture has to change,” Williams said. “This is not the wild, wild west.”
The investigation into the shooting could take up to a year. Meanwhile, Officer McBride is back on patrol.