This summer, for the first time in his nearly five years as a Los Angeles police officer, Eden Medina shot someone. Medina opened fire July 28 as Omar Gonzalez fought with officers after a car chase ended. One witness saw the 36-year-old with a gun before Medina fatally shot him. Twelve days later, the gang officer fired his gun again, killing Jesse Romero two weeks shy of his 15th birthday. The Aug. 9 shooting prompted protests and criticism of the police department, amplified by the renewed national scrutiny over policing as well as conflicting accounts over whether Romero fired a gun at officers before he was shot, the Los Angeles Times reports. The shootings offer a window into how the LAPD treats officers who fire their guns.
It’s very unusual for an officer to shoot two people fatally in such a short period of time. The case raises questions about how much training and psychological help the LAPD provides officers who fire their weapons and whether they spend enough time away from the job after a deadly encounter. L.A. officers typically return to the field one to two weeks after a shooting and can do so even before they complete a training refresher course that usually lasts between 30 minutes and an hour. It is unclear whether Medina finished that training before returning to work. Police officers in Washington, D.C., and Dallas typically don’t return to their full duties for almost a month after a shooting, says an inspector general’s report. Officers in Las Vegas spend as long as two or three months out of the field. Dallas and Las Vegas also send officers to a full day of individualized training before they’re back on the job.