Jose Chavez: Killed By LAPD in South LA in 2018
September 6, 2021 ~ By Shari Rose
Chavez, 25, was tasered and shot with beanbag rounds before being pronounced dead
On May 6, 2018, Los Angeles police received a call about a “prowler” in South LA. More than a dozen LAPD officers confronted Jose Chavez as he stood in front of a home on Towne Avenue.
According to police, they attempted to speak with Chavez, but he was agitated and upset. Police say he then grabbed a dustpan, and waved it around. Two officers fired beanbag rounds at Chavez, hitting him in the chest. Chavez remained standing, so they both shot him again.
LAPD officers say he then grabbed a bottle of power steering fluid and poured it over himself. Police say he then grabbed a metal pipe. Three officers shot Chavez with bean bag rounds again. The 25-year-old dropped the pipe, but picked up the dust pan, so multiple officers shot him with bean bag rounds for a fourth time.
A different officer shot Chavez with a taser, and two other officers shot him with bean bag rounds for a fifth time. Chavez tried to run away, but another officer shot him with a Taser for a second time, and Chavez fell. Half a dozen LAPD officers then jumped on top of him. They handcuffed and hobbled him.
In heavily edited body cam footage the LAPD released, Chavez is seen lying on his stomach with multiple officers’ knees in his back. Police said he started having trouble breathing around this time. They called an ambulance, and Jose Chavez was dead on arrival at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center.
LAPD releases some body cam footage of Chavez’s death
In the aftermath of Chavez’s death in police custody, the LAPD released an entirely edited video on June 17, 2020 that contains some body cam footage. However, it’s just a collection of short clips with an officer speaking over the video to give a police perspective on what viewers can see. The body cam clips are carefully curated and cut to ensure no real clarity can be reached over police actions taken that day.
About two weeks after his death, Chavez’s family filed a wrongful death suit against the city of Los Angeles. The coroner’s report found that Chavez had asthma and had meth in his system when he died. The coroner blamed asthma, meth use, and “restraining maneuvers” performed by police for Chavez’s death.
More than a year after Chavez was killed, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office released an investigative report into his death. According to witness reports taken from that day, some neighbors say that LAPD officers put Chavez in a chokehold, while others say they didn’t. It’s quite telling that police only identified the names of witnesses that accused them of the chokehold. Witnesses who say the cops didn’t perform a chokehold had their identities remain hidden in the report.
The Los Angeles County DA’s office found the following LAPD officers justified in the killing of Jose Chavez: Alexander Aleshkevich, Isaac Gonzalez-Clemente, Carl Thompson, Danny Anderson, Damian Cruz, Luis Sanchez, Jose Vaca, Charles Dickinson, Antonio Hurtado, and Josue Rivas.
This story about Jose Chavez is part of a larger project that looks at recent police killings of Latinos in Los Angeles.