Los Angeles police officials said they would investigate allegations made in a news report that an LAPD officer delayed medical attention for an airport security employee fatally wounded during the shooting at Los Angeles International Airport this month.
Police Chief Charlie Beck, however, called the claims in the report "highly speculative," saying it was too early to draw conclusions about how officers responded to the Nov. 1 shooting.
Authorities have accused Paul Ciancia of targeting agents with the Transportation Security Administration in the shooting, in which, they allege, he opened fire with an assault rifle in Terminal 3 of LAX. Ciancia has been charged with murdering TSA Officer Gerardo Hernandez and wounding others before being shot by police.
According to an Associated Press report published Friday, a veteran LAPD officer responding to the scene came across Hernandez minutes after he had been shot.
Citing an unnamed source, the report claimed that instead of immediately bringing Hernandez to paramedics stationed outside the terminal, the officer "checked on" him several times and declared to others that he was already dead. More than 30 minutes passed before officers from the airport's own police force brought Hernandez to paramedics, the report said.
Authorities have said Hernandez was shot repeatedly in the chest at close range; however, it is not known how quickly he died. Results of an autopsy have not yet been released. By the time he was brought out of the terminal, Hernandez was in full cardiac arrest, an emergency medical source with knowledge of the incident told The Times. Paramedics took him to a hospital, where doctors tried unsuccessfully to revive him.
Based on the claim in the AP report, the LAPD will open a formal investigation into the officer's conduct, said LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith. It is LAPD policy to conduct an investigation into any allegation of an officer's wrongdoing.
The LAPD is also conducting a broad review of how officers responded to the shooting. As part of that, investigators will review video recordings taken by terminal security cameras.
Marshall McClain, president of the union that represents officers in the separate airport Police Department, also raised questions about the LAPD officer's alleged inaction and the time it took to bring Hernandez to medical aid. "My point is we are trained to render aid. It is not your job to decide someone is dead," McClain told The Times.
McClain emphasized that he had not seen any video recordings of the shooting and so did not know exactly what officers did when Hernandez was discovered. McClain said his criticism is based on accounts provided to him by officers who responded to the shooting.
On Saturday, several agencies that either responded to or are involved in the subsequent investigation into the airport shooting issued a joint news release, saying "we are rightfully evaluating where improvements can be made should we ever be faced with such an incident in the future." It said a special work group has been assembled to make recommendations on any corrective action that might be taken.
The joint statement was issued by Los Angeles World Airports, the FBI, the L.A. Fire Department, the LAPD and the TSA. It characterized some of the statements made about the shooting and the response by authorities as "untrue," while others "merit serious consideration by our respective agencies."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun