David Martinez returned to Echo Park last week after spending a few days in jail, and he was hungry. That’s why Martinez and his wife, Gina Benavidez, and his sister were ordering tacos at about midnight from the taco truck at Logan Street near Sunset Boulevard when an LAPD squad car raced down Sunset Boulevard. Soon after 47-year-old Martinez, also known as Dizzy, was running down the street, recalls Benavidez. Then multiple shots rang out as her husband was struck by police bullets near the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Echo Park Avenue. The LAPD said officers opened fire on Martinez because it appeared that he was pointing a weapon at them. But the gun that Martinez was allegedly holding in his hand on March 19 was never found.
This coming Saturday, March 30, Benavidez and her family and friends are planning to hold a noontime press conference and vigil near the scene of the shooting to provide more details about the incident and speak out against the Rampart Division officers.
“I’m still in shock,” said Benavidez in a telephone interview today before she went to visit Martinez at County-USC Medical Center, where he was undergoing another round of surgery. “I cannot sleep at night.”
The LAPD has so far provided only minimal information about the shooting as it conducts a use-of-force investigation. The Eastsider has contacted the Force Investigation Division to get a response to Benavidez’ version of events of the shooting, which was reported at about 12:20 a.m. on Tuesday, March 19.
Martinez had been in jail for a few days on an open-container violation when he was released Monday, March 18 only a few hours before the shooting, Benavidez said. “He got out Monday. He came home and went for tacos,” Benavidez said. “We never got the tacos.”
After the shots rang out, Benavidez, 41, and her sister-in-law ran in the direction of the gunfire as “bullets flew over our heads,” she said. But the officers stopped the women from approaching Martinez, who had been shot on the right side of the head, his left arm and right leg, Benavidez said.
“We could not get anywhere near the crime scene,” she said. “We had to wait on the corner of Montana and Echo Park.”
Benavidez said her husband has suffered from emotional problems but has denied that he was armed. “It’s not fair,” she said.
- Echo Park man shot by police gets a show of support. The Eastsider
- No weapon found at scene of officer-involved Echo Park shooting. The Eastsider
- Echo Park streets close as LAPD investigates officer-involved shooting. The Eastsider
* Correction: A previous version of this story said described the woman with Benavidez and her sister. That’s wrong. It was Benavidez’ sister-in-law.