Angry demonstrators poured into the streets of a South Los Angeles neighborhood Sunday night, the second night of protests over the fatal shooting of an armed 18-year-old man.
The rowdy crowd shut down traffic at 108th Street and Western Avenue, where at one point a white sports car was seen doing donuts in the street as police and Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies stood by. Some protesters harassed news reporters and vandalized local businesses, scrawling graffiti on storefronts.
Demonstrators protested the killing of citizens by law enforcement, chanting and carrying signs. One sign stated: “Jail killer cops!”
The protest appeared to stem from a vigil held earlier in the evening for Carnell Snell Jr., who was shot Saturday afternoon by police outside his home near 107th Street and Western Avenue. Police said he bailed out of a vehicle being pursued by LAPD officers and ran away on foot. He was armed with a gun, which was later recovered at the scene, police said.
The crowd dwindled as the night wore on. LAPD officers in riot gear eventually swarmed to move about a dozen people away from 107th Street and Western Avenue and told them to leave or face arrest.
By 11 p.m., officers had arrested four people on suspicion of failing to disperse, LAPD Cmdr. Dennis Kato said. Snell’s family members later told police that some of the people at the protest were not from the neighborhood, Kato said.
Police continued urging people to disperse from the area as they walked down 107th Street, near where Snell was killed. At the makeshift candlelight memorial for Snell, police spoke with demonstrators and eventually turned around to leave the area.
Protesters shut down the same intersection the night before, many shouting profanities at police officers outfitted in riot gear. Another group of protesters marched to Mayor Eric Garcetti’s home in Hancock Park late Saturday, and photos showed eggs that had apparently been thrown at the residence.
The public protests came hours after a second fatal police shooting this weekend in South L.A. Police said it occurred about 5 p.m. near 48th Street and Ascot Avenue. A gun was found at the scene, police said. Further details on the shooting were not immediately available.
Earlier Sunday, friends and family members gathered outside Snell’s home, where his mother, Monique Morgan, moaned between sobs, “I want my baby … CJ! CJ! CJ.” A friend propped her up from behind and another waved a fan above her head to deflect the hot sun.
Police said they were pursuing the vehicle that Snell was a passenger in because they believed it may have been stolen. But authorities have not said whether the car was in fact stolen or divulged any more details about the shooting.
The driver of the vehicle remains at large.
A neighbor of Morgan’s, who identified herself as Ms. Crosby, said she saw Snell flee from police officers, then leap over the side gate. She then heard about eight gunshots.
Crosby said she did not see whether Snell was carrying a gun — she only saw him pulling up his pants as he was running.
“I kept telling him, ‘Stop, stop, they’re going to shoot you,’” she said.
Then, she shifted her pleas from Snell to the officers, begging them not to shoot, she said.
Crosby and other neighbors described Snell, who grew up two doors down from where he died, as a polite young man who helped clean up the trash after block parties.
“He was always a good kid to me. He called me Auntie Ma’am, and he called my husband Uncle Sir,” said one 53-year-old neighbor, who would give only her first name, Latonya.
Another neighbor, Christine Conley, said Snell was about the same age as her daughter and sometimes spent the night at her house when he was a child.
“It didn’t matter religion, gender or race — he always treated people, especially elders, with a lot of respect,” said Conley, 44, a caregiver for the elderly and handicapped.
Throughout Sunday morning and early afternoon, Snell’s friends gathered on the block, where a memorial of candles and flowers filled the sidewalk. They all grew up in the neighborhood together, they said, and were working together on a clothing line and music brand called Only the S7even.
Snell was attending college, enjoyed rapping and was pursuing boxing again after a hiatus, friends said.
Court records show that Snell was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon in July and sentenced to a year in Los Angeles County Jail.
But Snell’s friends said they had never known him to be involved with gangs or to carry a gun.
“He was at the wrong place at the wrong time, the LAPD being trigger-happy,” said Eric Hays, 28.
Tye Whitaker, 19, said he had known Snell since they were toddlers. Whitaker recalled that when Snell had a dollar, he would split it fifty-fifty and buy something for his friend.
“I don’t know why they would do that to CJ,” Whitaker said. “He would always make you smile. He had a big smile. He always wanted everyone to have a good time.”
Many people at the scene questioned why the police shot Snell instead of using Tasers or beanbags.
“It looks like with policemen, it’s a thing to do, killing black men,” said Johnny Jackson, 69, the owner of the house where Snell was shot.
Jackson, who is retired from AT&T, said that when he was a young man in Mississippi during the civil rights era, police used billy clubs, water hoses and dogs on black people, but rarely lethal force.
LAPD officials have not said whether Snell made any threatening movements toward the officers who were chasing him.
Assistant Chief Michel Moore said the department expects to release more information soon.
“An investigation continues to be conducted. We anticipate more information to be coming out Monday or Tuesday,” he said.
Jamie McBride, a director for the union that represents rank-and-file LAPD officers, said that if anyone points a gun at a police officer, “we will shoot you.”
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, a civil rights advocate who met with the Snell family Sunday, called on the LAPD to clarify its policies for when officers are allowed to use deadly force. He also called on the department to release the names of the officer or officers who shot Snell.
“There has been a rash of shootings. Why now are police officers escalating their use of deadly force?” Hutchinson said. “Is it a fear factor? Do they feel under siege? Are they able to use it because there’s no accountability?”