California police face scrutiny after killing double amputee

February 02, 2023
Anthony Lowe's family has accused Huntington Park police of murder
Anthony Lowe's family has accused Huntington Park police of murder

WASHINGTON — The police killing of a wheelchair user who allegedly refused to drop a butcher's knife is under investigation by authorities in California.

Double-amputee Anthony Lowe, 36, who was black, was fatally shot on 26 January in the Los Angeles area.

Police say he threatened them after stabbing someone. Lowe's mother said: "They murdered my son."

It comes amid renewed scrutiny of police killings after the death of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, Tennessee.

The incident involving Lowe occurred in Huntington Park, and was caught on camera by bystanders.

The grainy video shows part of the confrontation with Lowe holding a long shiny object and moving on the stumps of his legs away from officers. That clip does not show the shooting.

In a statement on 30 January, the Huntington Park Police Department said that officers had responded to a stabbing and the victim supplied a description of the suspect.

The suspect had allegedly left his wheelchair, approached the victim and stabbed him in the chest with a 12in butcher knife, before returning to the wheelchair and fleeing the scene.

The victim was left with "a life-threatening stab wound resulting in a collapsed lung and internal bleeding", the police statement said.

When officers caught up with Lowe, according to the police statement, he "ignored the officer's verbal commands and threatened to advance or throw the knife at officers".

Police say that after two unsuccessful attempts to use Tasers to subdue Lowe, they shot him.

Huntington Park Police Lt Hugo Reynaga told the Los Angeles Times that investigators had obtained video of the shooting from a nearby business, but do not plan to release the footage.

He added that Huntington Park officers do not wear body cameras.

"He tried to run away, and every time he turned around and did the motion like he was gonna throw the knife at him, they tased him," he told the newspaper.

"They were trying to give this guy the less-lethal Taser shock. And because it was ineffective, they had to go to something that was more effective."

The two officers involved have been placed on paid leave amid an investigation. They have not been named.

On Tuesday, members of Lowe's family and activists demanded that the officers be held accountable for the shooting.

"They murdered my son, in a wheelchair with no legs," Lowe's mother, Dorothy, said at a news conference. "They do need to do something about it."

A spokesperson for the family told the BBC's US partner, CBS, that Lowe was suffering from a mental health crisis at the time of the shooting.

His sister told the LA Times that he had his legs amputated last year following an incident with police in Texas.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department homicide unit is investigating the police shooting, as they do for other smaller police departments in the area.

According to the Mapping Police Violence database, nearly 1,200 people were killed by police in 2022. Officers were charged with a crime in nine of these cases. — BBC

February 02, 2023
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