The Los Angeles Police Commission rejected the recommendation of Police Chief William Bratton and ruled that an officer who fatally shot a 13-year-old after a brief chase violated the rules and should face discipline, the Los Angeles Times reports. It was the first major test of a panel Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa appointed last summer to provide tougher oversight of the Los Angeles Police Department. The commission, headed by civil rights activist John Mack, voted 4 to 1 to set aside Bratton’s finding and rule that Officer Steve Garcia violated policy when he fired into Devin Brown’s car as the boy backed toward him. Bratton said Garcia’s actions were justified because his life was threatened.
A police department review board will now decide whether Garcia’s actions amounted to misconduct and determine punishment, which could range from a reprimand to dismissal. The case probably will complicate Villaraigosa’s and Bratton’s relationship with the Police Protective League as it prepares to begin contract negotiations with the city. Both officials have courted the union as they push efforts to reduce crime. League President Bob Baker said the panel vote betrayed an officer who risks his life to protect the public.