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A Los Angeles police officer known as “top shot” for her shooting abilities is being sued by the daughter of a man she killed in April as he appeared to come at her with a knife.
Officer Toni McBride, 23, with the LAPD’s Newton Division, has appeared in several magazines and during practice at gun ranges in the area along with film stars like Keanu Reeves.
The lawsuit stems from bodycam footage showing her shooting and killing Daniel Hernandez, 38, in downtown Los Angeles earlier this spring. The footage shows her instructing Hernandez to drop the knife a number of times, but he failed to do so and continued to walk towards her.
According to the footage, McBride fired four times before Hernandez fell to the ground. After he fell, she fired an additional two times because he still had ahold of the knife. As the video shows, one officer clears the suspect’s hand as he still clutched the knife before he is handcuffed.
In her lawsuit, Hernandez’s 14-year-old daughter alleges that the shooting wasn’t justified and that McBride demonstrated “reckless violent and homicidal propensities,” the UK’s Daily Mail reports.
The family’s lawyer, Arnoldo Casillas, turned the shooting in a racial incident, claiming that blacks and Latinos have been dealing with similar police-related incidents for years.
“Do we want police officers to be gunslingers, or to live up to the LAPD motto, ‘to protect and to serve?’” Casillas said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
However, others — including police experts — have come to McBride’s defense.
“There is absolutely no doubt in my mind this officer was facing an immediate threat to her life,” said use-of-force expert Ed Obayashi.
Meanwhile, as the suit progresses, McBride is reportedly back on patrol, the Daily Mail noted.
Videos posted online show McBride practicing her shooting skills at a Simi Valley gun range, Taran Tactical Innovations, where stars like Reeves often go to practice similar skills they use on-screen.
“McBride, an officer in LAPD’s Newton Division, fired an array of shotguns, pistols and assault rifles. She cavorted and strutted, sometimes within view of Hollywood glitterati, who used the same firing range to hone the gunplay they would use for movies and TV,” the LA Times reported.
“When star Keanu Reeves shouted out to her LAPD division in one video, the young cop laughed with delight. ‘Hey, he knows!,’ she said, clapping. ‘Shootin’ Newton!’”
Some believe that the suit is linked, in part, to McBride’s LAPD lineage. Jamie McBride, her father, is one of nine directors on the LAPD’s union board. He was involved in six shooting incidents during his first 11 years on the job.
One critic, George Gasco, who is running for Los Angeles County district attorney, said because of her father’s powerful position it will be hard for the Hernandez family to get a fair shake.
That said, police officers who are very familiar with the LAPD’s Force Investigation Division, which is charged with looking into shootings like McBride’s, will be thorough and fair.
In addition, the independent Inspector General, LAPD Chief Police Michel Moore, the civilian Police Commission and the district attorney’s office will also look into the shooting in a process that could take up to a year.
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