Former LA County deputy charged with manslaughter in 2019 shooting

A former Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy has been charged with intentional homicide for killing an unarmed man as he attempted to drive away, prosecutors said Thursday.

Andrew Lyons, who was fired from the sheriff’s department after the 2019 shooting, also faces two counts of assault with a semi-automatic firearm, according to the LA County District Attorney’s Office. A second deputy involved in the shooting, Christopher Muse, has not been charged.

The criminal charges, which are extremely rare in police shootings, largely resulted from security camera footage that clearly captured the brief and violent encounter between deputies and 24-year-old Ryan Twyman.

Weeks before the June 6 shooting, gang investigators found illegal firearms during a search of Twyman’s home while he was away and had been looking for him ever since, according to an account released by the department. of the sheriff at the time. Investigators learned that Twyman drove a white Kia Forte and frequented an apartment complex in Willowbrook, the statement said.

Video footage shows Lyons and Muse pull into the parking lot near East 132nd and South San Pedro streets around 7:30 p.m. They pull out their guns and approach a parked vehicle with tinted windows matching the description of Twyman’s car.

As Lyons walked to the driver’s side, Muse walked to the rear passenger side door, opened it, and peered inside. Twyman, who was inside, quickly started the car and began to back up, video shows. Muse was hit by the open door and recoiled when the door pushed him.

Lyons, who had moved to the front of the car, and Muse both opened fire and continued firing as the car rolled backwards in a slow circle before coming to a stop.

Lyons retrieved a rifle from his patrol car, took up position behind a parked truck, and continued firing. In all, deputies fired 34 rounds at the car.

Twyman was hit multiple times and died. A passenger in the car was not injured.

The shooting appears to violate a Sheriff’s Department policy that directs deputies not to shoot a moving vehicle or its occupants unless a person in the automobile is “imminently threatening a member of the department or another person.” present with deadly force by means other than the moving vehicle. ”

The policy states that the vehicle itself “will not be presumptively a threat justifying the use of deadly force.”

LA County has settled a wrongful death lawsuit brought by Twyman’s family for $3.9 million in 2020. Sheriff Alex Villanueva said earlier this year that one of the deputies involved in the shooting had been fired but did not specify which. The other deputy received a 30-day suspension, Villanueva said. A law enforcement source with knowledge of the matter said Lyons was fired.

The criminal case against Lyons is the second brought by LA County Dist. Atti. George Gascón against a police officer for an on-duty shooting. David Chandler, a Torrance police officer who had been linked to a scandal involving racist text messages exchanged by multiple officers, was charged last year with assault for a 2018 incident in which he shot and injured a man armed with a knife as the man reportedly walked away from him.

Prior to this case, criminal charges were filed against a sheriff’s deputy for the murder of an unarmed man in 2016, marking the first time in more than two decades that LA County prosecutors have attempted to convict a law enforcement officer. order for a shooting. In November, Deputy Luke Liu was acquitted.

The charges against Lyon in Twyman’s death come two months after Villanueva criticized Gascón for the time it took his office to decide to press charges against deputies in dozens of on-duty shootings dating back to 2016.

Villanueva said there was “no excuse” for the slowness, with prosecutors still reviewing one case each from 2016 and 2017, two cases from 2018 and a dozen from 2019, he said.

Los Angeles Times

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