It was our bullets that killed him....with those words, acting LA County Deputy Sheriff John Scott confirmed that an innocent Pico Rivera man was shot and killed by deputies during a gunfight with a parolee.
The autopsy report indicates that 54-year-old Frank Mendoza was struck twice, once on the forehead, when he tried to flee from the house where the parolee, 24-year-old Cedric Ramirez, had broken into.
Ramirez was fleeing from officers last Friday afternoon when he ran into the Mendoza home on Rose Hedge Drive. One adult and two children fled out the front door as the parolee shot at deputies. When Mendoza attempted to flee he was shot by a 13-year-veteran of the force.
"It was a very dynamic situation and he feared for his life, and that of the deputies with him," says the acting chief. The officers pulled Mendoza to safety, and tried to revive him as an ambulance arrived. The grandfather of 8 did not make it.
Eventually, SWAT was able to enter the residence, where Ramirez was holding Mendoza's wife hostage. They shot him dead and rescued her, unharmed.
It is the second time in four months that an L.A. County Sheriff deputy kills an innocent person during a hostage situation. Last April in West Hollywood deputies shot and killed a bloodied man who tried to escape an apartment. The actual suspect was still inside attacking another man.
Now in that case, both the victim and the suspect had many similarities and were close in age.
In Pico Rivera, the suspect was 24-years-old, tall, thin, and covered with tattoos. The victim was a heavier set, 54-year-old with no tattoos and graying hair. Two of his grandchildren were the ones that managed to escape unharmed, before he tried to go out the same door and was shot by deputies.
Another difference in Pico rivera? The suspect was shooting at officers.
The incident is being investigated. "We are agonizing over this" added Scott, "because somebody was killed, an innocent person..."
Mendoza's family, through a spokesperson, thanked well-wishers.
A fundraiser for funeral expenses is being held on August 7, 2014, from 5-9 at Falcone's Pizza, 9247 Slauson ave. in Pico Rivera.
The public is invited to a Rosary on Friday at Del Angel Mortuary, and the funeral at St Hillary's, both in Pico Rivera.?
WJBK-TV | Fox 2
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