Remembering Andres Avila, 26, murdered by Pomona PD

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This was an incident that happened on October 16, 2011. Avila was beaten by Pomona police officer O'Malley, and filed a complaint about the incident. Shortly afterwards, he was sitting in a car with a woman in an alley at 8:30 in the morning. He was shot by a Pomona PD officer (not O'Malley). He was unarmed. The results of the investigation, if any, have yet to be released.

The family and supporters have continued their quest for justice in his case, addressing the city council and the media several times, and protesting the police department. They are scheduling another protest for this Sunday, January 13, 2013, from noon until 3:PM, according to the Justice4Andy facebook page. We urge the supporters of CopWatch to attend the demonstration.

From the LA TImes homicide blotter:

Andres Avila, 26
Died Oct. 16, 2011 at 9:00 a.m.

Andres Avila, a 26-year-old Latino, was fatally shot by Pomona police Sunday, Oct. 16, in the 900 block of West Holt Avenue in Pomona, according to Los Angeles County coroner's records.

The shooting occurred about 8:40 a.m. when two Pomona officers encountered Avila and a woman in an alley. In a Los Angeles County sheriff's press release, authorities said, “The male became uncooperative and violent.”

At that point, an officer-involved shooting occurred. Avila was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Sheriff’s Department is handling the death investigation.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to contact the sheriff's homicide bureau at (323) 890-5500. Those wishing to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS (800) 222-8477.

—Abby Sewell

929 W. Holt Ave.
Neighborhood: Pomona
Age: 26
Gender: Male
Cause: Gunshot
Day of the week: Sunday
Agency: LASD Homicide
Race/Ethnicity: Latino
Circumstance: Officer-involved
Crime scene: Alley


Follow the Homicide Report on Twitter @latimeshomicide.
Updated: Oct. 22, 2011 at 9:00 a.m.

A pretty in-depth report from the LA Weekly blog:

Pomona Police Brutality, Racism? Family of Andres Avila, Beaten and Shot Dead by Cops, Calls for Federal Investigation (VIDEO)
By Simone Wilson Mon., Nov. 7 2011 at 1:00 PM 23 Comments
Categories: Death, Police

Looks as if the murder and manslaughter charges against Fullerton police officers for the fatal beating of homeless man Kelly Thomas may have inspired the family of another officer-involved-shooting victim to challenge the actions of local law enforcement in nearby Pomona.
Andres Avila, 26, a former student at Mt. San Antonio College, was gunned down on a Sunday morning in an alley outside the Super Inn on West Holt Avenue. According to the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, who is now handling the investigation (along with the District Attorney), Avila and his girlfriend had spent the night of October 15 in his car, as she was sharing a hotel room with her family. When two officers approached the vehicle at 8:40 a.m. ...

... they claim Avila got out of the car and became violent. So they shot him dead.

The victim was completely unarmed, according to Luis Carrillo, the attorney now representing his family in a lawsuit against the city of Pomona. Avila's relatives are asking for "unlimited damages." The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin outlines the allegations:

In the claim Carrillo alleges police have made false statements about Avila, violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free from excessive force, and subjected him to false arrest, false imprisonment, battery, negligence, state civil rights violations and wrongful death.
Avila's own history with Pomona police may have put him on defense the morning he was shot. Strangely, he's the same young man who filed a personnel complaint after friends videotaped him getting beat up by cops at a Fourth of July house party.

Here are three videos of the beatdown we found on YouTube.

Today, at the 6:30 p.m. Pomona City Council meeting, Avila's family plans to take the weighty accusations on behalf of their lost loved one to an institutional level: They're asking that the city itself (who, remember, is already being sued for Avila's death) call in the feds to investigate the larger implications of the shooting/beating.

According to the Daily Bulletin, their attorney has already asked as much of the U.S. Department of Justice. From his letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder:

"A Federal investigation is needed into the Pomona Police Department 'pattern and practice' of excessive use of force against the minority communities, and the pattern and practice of 'racial profiling' of Latino residents, for the sole purpose of towing their vehicles."
In the immediate aftermath of Avila's death, nearly all crucial details of the October 16 incident -- like whether Avila was armed, or otherwise threatened the lives of the officers -- were concealed.

And in the weeks since, the Pomona Police Department has remained tight-lipped, saying only that the sheriff and D.A. "will make a determination as to the legality of the the shooting at the conclusion of their investigation."

We've contacted sheriff's homicide Detective Gene Okada for updates on that front. As for the D.A.'s office -- a recent ruling that Long Beach cops killed resident Douglas Zerby out of self defense isn't too encouraging. But in that case, both cops and neighbors mistook the water nozzle in Zerby's hand for a gun. Pomona police seem to have a less obvious argument for killing Avila.

In the meantime, Pomona residents, share your thoughts: Has a culture of racism and brutality been brewing at the police department, or are these isolated incidents?


And from KABC:

Pomona PD faces wrongful death, excessive force claims
Tuesday, November 01, 2011

TAGS:caught on tape, officer-involved shooting, pomona, los angeles county sheriff's department, los angeles news, rob mcmillan

Rob McMillan
More: Bio, Recent Stories, News Team
POMONA, Calif. (KABC) -- Family members filed a wrongful death claim Tuesday against the Pomona Police Department in connection with fatal shooting of 26-year-old Andres Avila. They're also alleging racial profiling and excessive use of force.

Avila was shot and killed by police on Oct. 16 in the 900 block of West Holt Avenue.

"He was a human being, not an animal. Even an animal doesn't deserve this," said Jesus Avila, Andres Avila's brother.

The family said it all started at a family party on the Fourth of July.
"Police entered the residence and chased him for no apparent reason. My brother ran, and that's when he was beat," explained Adriana Avila, Andres Avila's sister.

The family says cell phone video taken that night shows Avila being beaten and Tased by police.

He later filed a written personnel complaint against the officers involved.

Three months later, Avila was killed in an officer-involved shooting.

On the morning of Oct. 16, officers had contacted Avila and his girlfriend, who were both apparently sleeping in a car at a motel parking lot. It is unclear what happened next, but there was an officer-involved shooting, in which Avila was pronounced dead at the scene.

The family says he was unarmed.

"I don't think it's a mere coincidence that a young man who filed personnel complaints winds up two months later getting shot dead by the same police department that he filed the personnel complaints against," Luis Carrillo, the Avila family attorney, said at a press conference Tuesday.

The Pomona Police Department had no comment regarding the allegations of excessive use of force and racial profiling. As for the shooting death on Oct. 16, they referred all questions to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

The sheriff's department also had no comment Thursday, but the original press release did state that "the male became uncooperative and violent." The press release did not mention that Avila had a weapon.

And their followup:

Probe under way into fatal Pomona police shooting
Sunday, October 16, 2011

TAGS:shooting, pomona, officer-involved shooting, los angeles news
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POMONA, Calif. (KABC) -- Police in Pomona killed a suspect during an officer-involved shooting on Sunday morning. No officers were hurt.

Authorities said the shooting happened in the 900 block of West Holt Avenue about 8:30 a.m.

Pomona police said they were patrolling the alley behind the Pomona Inn Hotel when they encountered a Chevy Impala with a man and female inside. Police said the man got out of the car and became violent.

"During the detention, a male became violent and an officer-involved shooting occurred," said Lt. Holly Francisco of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which is handling the investigation.

The man was declared dead at the scene.

The driver side backseat window was shot out and a bullet struck the building.

"I heard shots, I ran outside and there were two cops just standing there and they were putting my sister in the back of the car," said Adrien Huguez, who said his sister was inside the car. "My sister was crying. You could just see the feet of a body laying behind my sister's boyfriend's car."

Lisa Ortiz said her daughter's boyfriend was not armed.

"You don't kill innocent people when all the bad people are still out there in the street," Ortiz said. "Killed my daughter's boyfriend with my daughter in the car in cold blood."

It's not yet clear why officers approached the man and his girlfriend.