Los Angeles, CA — The parents of a 20-year-old man who was shot to death by police and then run over by a patrol car, are now begging for the officers responsible for their son's death be held accountable for their actions.
Eric Rivera, 20, was killed by Los Angeles police officers in June, following a 911 call about a man with a gun. Officers Arturo Urrutia and Daniel Ramirez approached Rivera on the night of June 7. They claimed that they exited their vehicle so quickly, they forgot to put the car in park. As they were opening fire on the man they believed to be brandishing a handgun, the car continued to roll over the young man, but not before the officers struck him seven times, with at least one bullet piercing his skull.
In a tragic scene that undoubtedly could have been derived from an action movie, the car rolled over Rivera, pinning him to a wall and trapping his body underneath the police cruiser. As the investigation into the officer-involved shooting unfolded, a crane had to be called in to lift the vehicle from over Rivera's body. The family's lawyer described the young man's torso as "literally mangled."
There were no firearms found at the scene. While a multi-colored water pistol was recovered, Rivera's family told reporters it does not belong to their son. They are now calling for the prosecutor's office to bring charges of negligent homicide against Urrutia and Ramirez.
"What they did was very wrong and they need to be prosecuted. Something needs to be done," Phillip Malik, Eric Rivera's father told reporters.
The family has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit but will drop the lawsuit under one condition. according to KTLA:
Rivera's parents are willing to drop their federal civil rights lawsuit if Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey agrees to prosecute the officers involved, according to Casillas & Associates, the law firm representing the family.
Representatives from Casillas & Associates are turning up the heat on the prosecutor's office, calling out the LA County district attorney by name. "This is a negligent homicide. Jackie Lacey, do your job," Attorney Arnoldo Casillas told reporters.
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Officers Urrutia and Ramirez have been cleared of all wrongdoing, according to the KTLA, and are reportedly back on the field performing their regular duties—citizens of Los Angeles, beware.
Lawyers for the Rivera family produced an animated video describing how they believe the alleged homicide occurred. However, the LAPD claims their animation is not based on any evidence that the department is aware of. They countered the video production in a statement saying:
"We do not know the basis for the video graphic produced by the attorney for Mr. Rivera’s family. What we do know is that the video does not take into consideration the substantial evidence collected by [LAPD investigators] as part of [their] exhaustive investigation of the incident.”
Valerie Rivera, Eric Rivera's mom lamented her loss. "I'm never going to be able to hug my son again. We're never going to be able to spend holidays with him again. He's not here with us," She said.
Casillas said his department located an eyewitness, a security guard who passed Rivera on the sidewalk. The guard reportedly told the legal team Rivera was acting normally and posed no threat to himself or anyone else. Casillas said the squirt gun found on the scene looked "like Buzz Lightyear's ray gun."
The Free Thought Project will continue to provide updates on this story as the legal proceedings continue and video obtained through the officers' Body cameras or Dash cameras are released.