La Mesa Police Release Bodycam Video, ID Officer Who Shot Grandmother With Bean Bag Round During Protest
UPDATE: 4:21 p.m., July 23, 2020
Dante Pride, Leslie Furcron’s attorney, told KPBS on Thursday that La Mesa Police only released the body camera footage in response to Furcron’s ongoing civil lawsuit against the city.
He believes the police department is trying to create a narrative that officers were shooting at Furcron in self-defense.
"Never have I received something like the La Mesa Police Department produced," Pride told KPBS. "What they produced was a cinematic production, put together by a PR person to try to paint a picture that the use-of-force against Ms. Furcron was justified."
Pride said that by that time of day, after law enforcement had cleared the parking lot in front of the police department using tear gas, Detective Eric Knudson should have been able to determine whether he or any other officer was in danger from Furcron.
"From the time you see her make a throwing motion, to the time he shoots her. It’s like five entire seconds of nothing," Pride said. "Time for him to reflect, time for him to decide 'I shouldn’t use this force on this person,'.... But instead he just fired his weapon, which I think is against police policy."
Furcron still has not regained sight in her left eye and must use home health aides to assist her, he said.
Original story below:
Nearly two months after a La Mesa grandmother was injured by a bean bag round shot by a La Mesa police officer during a protest, the La Mesa Police Department (LMPD) late Wednesday released the body-worn camera footage as well as identified the officer involved.
Leslie Furcron, 59, was badly injured after being shot in the forehead during a protest and ensuing riot in front of the La Mesa Police Department headquarters on May 30.
Her family has been seeking the release of the body-worn camera footage and the name of the officers involved, going as far as filing a lawsuit June 23 seeking the information.
On Wednesday, LMPD identified the officer as Detective Eric Knudson, a 12-year veteran of the force. He is currently on paid administrative leave while the incident is being investigated.
“It is my hope that we will continue to heal the wounds, nurture an environment of open communication and make La Mesa a safer place to live,” La Mesa police Chief Walt Vazquez said in a video statement accompanying the body-worn camera footage release.
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Footage of Furcron appears in the 7:22 video release, which includes photos, cell phone footage from protesters, surveillance and body-worn camera videos. In police-worn body camera footage from Knudson and officers in the vicinity, Furcron is seen throwing an empty aluminum can in the parking lot of LMPD headquarters. Knudson then discharges the bean bag round at Furcron, who falls to the ground after getting hit.
La Mesa police note the path of travel of the object thrown by Furcron was towards San Diego Sheriff’s deputies who were in the parking lot dispersing protestors.
Furcron’s attorney, Dante Pride, said Furcron threw a can on the ground but said she didn’t have the strength for it to hit the officers from where she was standing.
“They’ve admitted that officer fired in retaliation for what he thought was Ms. Furcron throwing an object,” he said at the news conference on June 10.
The shooting left Furcron with multiple fractures to her skull and blinded her on her left eye, according to the petition filed June 23. It was unclear if Furcron would regain the use of her left eye, the petition said.
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“Please note that I continue to pray for Ms. Furcron and hope that she continues to heal and makes a full recovery with her family at home,” Vazquez said Wednesday.
On June 9, LMPD released a 12-page timeline of what happened during the protest and the ensuing riot and looting.
The timeline shows that officers began deploying tear gas and bean bag rounds at protesters after things were thrown at the police.
The LMPD has referred the case to the San Diego County District Attorney’s office for review to determine if any crime has been committed.
Furcron’s family has publicly said they want the officer who shot her identified, criminally charged and fired.