The family of a robbery suspect shot and killed by a Lakewood sheriff's deputy in Bellflower last month criticized the department at a Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday.
Tony Francis, 22, was shot by a sheriff's deputy in the 9400 block of Alondra Blvd. at about 2:10 p.m. on Aug. 24 following a robbery, according to the sheriff's department.
"The suspect (Francis) was hitting the victim in the face numerous times, and stole an item from the victim," Lt. Holly Francisco said when originally interviewed at the scene.
Francis ran when a patrol car pulled up. At some point, Francis reached for his waistband and the deputy, fearing for his life, fired his gun from inside the car, according to deputies.
Francis' mother, father, sister and aunt appeared before the board Tuesday with community activist Eddie Jones to share their frustration at how they've been treated by the sheriff's department and their inability to get a report on the shooting.
"The police, whoever's involved, needs to be accountable," said Paulette Davenport, Francis' aunt. "Each one of us in here has to be accountable for our actions. Why not them? This family is hurting."
Francis' mother spoke through tears.
"They didn't even call me and tell me my son was dead," Tracy Davenport, Francis' mother, said. "I had to hear it on the street."
Jones described what he thought happened.
The deputy's "driving the car with one hand, he's got the gun out the window with the other hand, he chases the young man, the young man's scared because the car jumps the curb ... ends up in a dead end where the sheriff's vehicle hit the back wall," Jones said.
Jones said Francis was shot in the back, a shoulder and the head.
Attorney Brian Dunn of The Cochran Firm is representing the family and said in a telephone interview today that there is "no concrete evidence that there was a robbery."
"We sent investigators to all the local businesses" and tried to check on reports of an individual robbery victim, but found no one who had witnessed or reported a theft, Dunn said.
Dunn also said Francis was unarmed and no gun was recovered at the scene.
"There was a robbery involved and the deputy feared for his life, and for others," Steve Whitmore, sheriff's department spokesperson said.
"But nobody, nobody wants a situation like this to end the way it did, but it was necessary and it was appropriate."
Whitmore stressed that the shooting is being investigated by several entities including the department's Internal Affairs and Homicide bureaus, the Office of Independent Review and the District Attorney's Office.
Dunn said he expects to file a claim against the county, a legally required precursor to a lawsuit, within the next couple of weeks.