Video shows moment officer hits pedestrian with car in South Los Angeles

Footage newly released by the Los Angeles Policy Department shows how a police cruiser fatally struck 26-year-old Luis Espinoza in Watts in the gathering twilight on Dec. 8.

According to the department, the incident occurred on East Century Boulevard around 5 p.m. City fire paramedics transported Espinoza to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Footage from stationary cameras facing East Century Boulevard shows the police SUV rapidly traveling eastbound on the street with its emergency lights flashing. A slow-motion rendition of the video shows a blurred image of Espinoza running across the street about 75 feet away west of the light at McKinley Avenue, which was green for the cruiser.

There, the cruiser struck Espinoza so violently that his body flew and tumbled into the intersection, crossing the junction and rolling at least 50 more feet, the slow-motion footage shows.

On an audio recording released by the department, a female officer can be heard calling for help after the collision. Another video from a stationary camera shows an officer attending to Espinoza about a minute after the collision, appearing to administer chest compressions.

Police have not released the name of the officer driving the cruiser. According to sources familiar with the investigation, the officer was part of the department’s community safety partnership bureau, which seeks to improve relationships between police and the communities they serve across the city. At the time of the collision, they said, she was running an errand for a member of a youth sports team affiliated with the department.

The 7-plus-minute video released by the LAPD is a combination of dashboard camera footage and clips from stationary locations.

A department spokesperson would not confirm the source of the non-dashboard footage and said there was no further information involving the investigation.

LAPD Capt. Kelly Muniz said in a community briefing Sunday that the investigation into the incident was handled by the department’s multidisciplinary collision investigation team.

She said that the investigation was “still in the early stages” and that a resolution may not happen for months. However, she said the case has been “presented to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office for filing consideration.”

“We also do not draw any conclusions about whether the officers acted consistent with our policies in the law until all the facts are known and the investigation is complete,” she said.

Last month, LAPD Chief Michel Moore said he had “very serious concerns regarding the officer’s driving leading up to the collision.” He also said a separate internal affairs investigation was being conducted.

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