Hector Morejon, a 19-year-old resident of the California city of Long Beach, was shot and killed by an officer on Thursday, the Los Angeles Times first reported. He was unarmed.
The officer, who has not yet been publicly identified, responded to a report that people were trespassing and vandalizing a vacant home on Thursday afternoon. The officer looked into the apartment and saw Morejon turn toward him from a wall with his knees bent and his arm extended, which the officer perceived as maybe he had a gun.
“At this point, an officer-involved shooting occurred,” a police spokesperson told the LA Times, which is some Rumsfeld-level linguistic weaseling. It’s a passive, blame-skirting way to say “an officer shot an unarmed man.”
“Police didn’t respond to requests for information about the number of times Morejon was shot and whether he was holding an object,” according to the L.A. Times. The Long Beach Press-Telegram reports that the officer did not give Morejon a verbal warning before opening fire.
No weapons were found at the scene. Police say the apartment was covered in gang-related graffiti.
Morejon’s family disputes the insinuation that he was involved in gang activity, saying in a statement released through attorney R. Samuel Paz that the allegation “reflects the police department’s immediate tactic to attempt to make the victim of a police killing (here Hector) appear like a bad person,” according to the Press-Telegram. “Hector was a sweet son and favored little brother.”
The family is calling for a Justice Department investigation into the shooting, in addition a departmental investigation, a Los Angeles County DA’s Office investigation, and a coroner’s report.