LAPD Officers Admit Man Is Unarmed, Shoot Him
“It’s not a gun, bro.”
Newly released video shows that Los Angeles Police Department officers shot Jermaine Petit three times after telling each other that he did not have a gun. Petit, a 41-year-old veteran of the United States Air Force, has been described as struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder and substance use.
Although Petit survived the July 21, 2022, shooting, LAPD presented charges of brandishing a replica firearm to the city attorney’s office for filing consideration. Petit has been released from police custody on a $26,000 bond. Ivor Pine, a deputy director with the city attorney’s office, told Knock LA that the matter is pending review.
The critical incident report, posted online on September 1, 2022, contains recordings of two callers. One caller describes Petit in front of his trash cans. The person claims he “told [Petit] to leave, then he pulled out a gun. It looked like a black semiautomatic gun.” A second claims she “just called about a guy who is walking around with a gun,” then states she saw him walking nearby. Knock LA has obtained LAPD’s notes on a third call not included in the LAPD report. The notes read: “Advised the suspect is walking on 41st toward 11th Street, toward Audubon School. Unknown if there is a handgun but he is carrying a stick and is lighting trash on fire.”
The video of the shooting contains four points of view. Three of those are from body-worn cameras worn by Officer Daryl Glover, whose mother is a police union director; Sergeant Brett Hayhoe; and a currently unnamed LAPD officer. All of Hayhoe’s audio is missing due to a two-minute buffer period. Bodycams do not take audio footage until an officer activates the camera. The fourth video perspective is security footage from across the street.
Available footage begins with an unnamed officer exiting his vehicle, commanding Petit several times to “take his hands out of his pockets.” “Get on the fucking wall, what’s that in your hands?” Glover shouts at Petit. Petit is walking away from the officers, at one point showing his hands, then continuing to walk away. Hayhoe drives alongside Petit, steering with his left hand and holding his firearm out of the passenger side window with his right hand. Petit turns, holding a car part, then continues to walk away from the responding officers. “Oh, shit…” Glover says. Glover’s partner tells Glover that “it’s not a gun, bro.”
Petit and the officers responding begin to run. “What is… you said it’s not a gun?” Petit says, followed by, “Hey, drop it!” A reflection on the panel shows that Sergeant Hayhoe was the first to shoot from inside his vehicle. Glover shoots a round afterwards, which hits Petit from the back. The footage of the next round is difficult to decipher. Even spokespeople for LAPD were unable to tell Knock LA who the third shot belonged to. Hayhoe’s arm appears to rise up quickly along with his weapon in his body-worn video, which captures the reflection of the panel.
Hayhoe gets out of his vehicle, continuing to point his firearm at Petit. Officers radio in, saying, “Shots fired, officer needs help.” An officer says, “We’ve got the gun right here.” As Petit is on the ground, they begin shouting at him to stop reaching for the car part as Petit writhes in pain. Petit moves his hands closer to his body. The supervisor screams at the two officers and tells them to get cover behind the police vehicle.
Sergeant Hayhoe committed at least one previous questionable use of force, in August 2003. Eddie L. Rich was fleeing the scene as a carjacking suspect. Rich abandoned the vehicle and fled on foot, pursued by Hayhoe. Hayhoe tackled Rich, and Rich attempted to resist. Other officers arrived to assist Hayhoe in “handcuffing and hobbling [Rich].” According to the prosecuting attorneys in court documents, “When he abandoned the car and ran, he was tackled and struck in the forehead. Other officers began grabbing him and kicking him.” After the violent arrest, Rich’s attorneys stated in documents that he “received a dislocated shoulder and numerous head injuries. When treated at a hospital, he required stitches, and he was given a foot brace.” Rich represented himself during trial and was convicted of evading an officer and resisting an executive officer.
The night Petit was shot, a neighbor told Knock LA that Petit suffered a fear of law enforcement from a previous incident with police. A 2019 video shows Petit being tased by deputies during a stop for jaywalking. Deputies claim they suspected he was armed, but he was not. After the incident, Petit was admitted to Phoenix House, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. Captain James Powers of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department took credit for his admission, telling ABC, “He’s a veteran, he’s fought for our country, and he’s represented the military to help provide the freedom that we have. It’s the least I could do to reach out.” Credit for his admission was in actuality the result of Petit’s mother reaching out to Powers, who spoke to a friend at the VA.
At Phoenix House, and later in transitional housing, Petit started to recover. He made plans to go to school and to rekindle his relationship with his daughter. But eventually refusing to turn over “certain rights,” Petit refused to sign up for a long-term facility. He began wandering the streets, sometimes for weeks on end, before the shooting.
Following the release of the video of the shooting on September 1, activists and politicians alike vehemently condemned the shooting of Petit. LA city attorney candidate Faisal Gill used the shooting of Petit to accuse LAPD of covering up misconduct.
City Council candidate Hugo Soto-Martinez called the shooting purposeful and criminal, and called for the officers to be prosecuted, saying “who committed this heinous crime must be held accountable!”
James Reedy, a community organizer, condemned the attempts to prosecute Petit. saying “They’re trying to charge Jermaine Petit with anything at this point.”
Despite at least two officers admitting they knew Petit was unarmed, LAPD spread a false narrative that he had a gun. A string of lies and mistruths after a clear case of police brutality has led many to wonder if there’s any reason to trust LAPD at all.