[UPDATED with Jason Bitz was Unarmed, May Have Not Been Stealing Car:] Santa Ana Off-Duty Cop Shoots and Kills a Guy
UPDATE, NOV. 3, 3:09 A.M.: Los Angeles County sheriff's investigators say Jason Richard Bitz was not armed when a Santa Ana police officer fired four times and killed the Long Beach 23-year-old in Lakewood Monday morning. The unidentified officer, who has been placed on administrative leave, had said Bitz reached into his waistband before he was shot. Meanwhile, a family member claims Bitz was not breaking into a car but had keys and permission to enter the vehicle the officer apparently thought was about to be stolen from his neighborhood.
The Los Angeles Times has the latest developments, which include the unidentified Bitz family member saying the dead man was on parole, which might explain why he ran when first confronted by the off-duty cop.
UPDATE, NOV. 3, 11:29 A.M.: The Los Angeles County Coroner's Office has identified a man shot to death in Lakewood by an off-duty Santa Ana police officer as 23-year-old Jason Bitz of Long Beach.
The unidentified officer has been placed on administrative leave, as is routine in officer-involved shootings. He is said to have fired his weapon after Bitz, who was being chased, reached into his waistband. But Los Angeles County sheriff's investigators probing the shooting have not revealed whether a gun was found on the dead man.
ORIGINAL POST, OCT. 31, 1:07 P.M.: The off-duty officer from the Santa Ana Police Department has not been identified, but the circumstances that led him to shoot and kill a man in Lakewood this morning have been released by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
The cop heard noises outside his Longworth Avenue home, went outdoors to find two males breaking into a vehicle across the street, identified himself as a police officer and gave chase in his car as they darted off on foot, according to deputies.
At some point around 6:30 a.m., one man being pursued got into the officer's car, how and why remains unclear. According to the sheriff's statement, the would-be thief reached for his waistband, at which point the cop fired four times at him. The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene.
John Tucker, who retired from the Santa Ana Police Department 10 years ago, lived in the same neighborhood residents described as quiet and safe, save for a few burglaries that prompted Tucker to install a video surveillance camera on his property.
Sheriff's investigators are now reviewing tape from the camera of Tucker, who was awakened by the gunfire, as part of the shooting probe, the Los Angeles Times reports.
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