A 19-year-old Winnetka man who was shot to death by police following a late-night chase through the western San Fernando Valley did not have a gun, but he called 911 during the pursuit and told a dispatcher he was armed and was prepared to shoot officers, police said Thursday.
The shooting occurred on the Ventura (101) Freeway in Woodland Hills shortly before 10 p.m. Wednesday, triggering a probe by investigators from the Los Angeles Police Department's Force Investigation Division and the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
The southbound lanes of the freeway were closed overnight between Topanga Canyon Boulevard and Winnetka Avenue while the investigation continued and remained shut down until about 8 a.m., snarling rush-hour traffic and leaving thousands of motorists stranded on the roadway.
The man's family identified him as Abdul Arian, a recent Taft High School graduate.
According to the LAPD, Arian called 911 during the chase and told a dispatcher, among other things:
- "I have a gun";
- "I've been arrested before for possession of destructive devices, I'm not afraid of the cops"; and
- "If they pull their guns, I'm gonna have to pull my gun out on them."
According to police, the 911 dispatcher advised the suspect to stop, telling him, "I don't want you to hurt yourself." The suspect responded, "I'm not gonna get hurt, (expletive); (expletive) these police, they're gonna get hurt."
Police did not immediately release a full copy of the 911 tape, or a transcript of the call.
According to an LAPD statement released Thursday afternoon, the "preliminary investigation indicates he did not have a gun," despite his statements to the 911 dispatcher.
In the aftermath of the shooting, an uncle of the young man told reporters that his nephew both wanted to be a police officer and feared police, and questioned why police didn't use non-lethal force.
"I just saw a live (television) shot, they are showing over -- God knows how many casings of bullets," Arian's uncle, Hamed, told CBS2. "Did they have to shoot that much? Why didn't you use a rubber bullet? Why didn't you use Taser gun? Why didn't you use anything else?"
LAPD Lt. Andy Neiman told the station, however, the shooting was a result of "the suspect's actions."
"Running away from the police and going on the freeway and jeopardizing the lives of not only our officers but the public really led this to a really horrible ending," he said.
Officers from the LAPD's Devonshire Station first stopped the suspect's car around 9:50 p.m. Wednesday in the area of Plummer Street and Shirley Avenue in Northridge, according to Officer Karen Rayner of LAPD Media Relations. The man sped away from the stop and drove recklessly, running red lights, before getting onto the freeway, she said.
He exited the freeway at Topanga Canyon Boulevard and re-entered on the southbound side. The chase ended on the freeway at Canoga Avenue with the suspect fleeing through the passenger side door of his car, which was turned sideways across freeway lanes. A squad car was driven into the driver's side door.
- KNBC4 Video: Driver Shot by Officers Told 911 Dispatcher 'I Have a Gun'
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- KCBS2 Video: 101 Freeway Reopens Following Deadly Pursuit
The suspect could be seen in television footage pointing at officers as he ran, but it was unclear if he had anything in his hand. According to the police statement, the suspect "took what appeared to be an aggressive 'shooting stance' several times, extending his arms out and pointing an unknown object at the officers," causing them to believe he was armed.
The gesture was followed by police gunfire, and the man was pronounced dead at the scene.
Reports from the scene indicated that at least three officers opened fire. Dozens of evidence markers, most likely marking the locations of shell casings, were placed on the freeway during the overnight investigation.
Hamed Arian told Channel 2 he saw his nephew at about 6 p.m. Wednesday when he was on his way to a gym.
"As soon as he came out from (the) gym, he ran a red light," Hamed Arian told the station. "He panicked. OK? He panicked and he ran."
He suggested that when his nephew got out of the car, he was trying to tell police that he was on the phone with 911.
-- City News Service