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Why did the police shoot “Dizzy” Martinez of Echo Park? The LAPD’s answer does not satisfy his family

Supporters of David Martinez put up a card board Get Well card near the shooting scene. Martinez died two months later after a seizure.

By LUCY GUANUNA

David “Dizzy” Martinez

ECHO PARK — David “Dizzy” Martinez was waiting for his common-law wife and sister to buy tacos when he found himself surrounded by police officers pointing guns at him on a March night in 2013. According to police, Martinez was pointing a “black object” believed to be a gun when officers opened fire on the 47-year-old Echo Park man. But that black object turned out to be a cellphone, which was found damaged and splattered with blood next to Martinez as he lay wounded on the sidewalk, according to an internal LAPD investigation. Martinez survived the shooting but died about two months later after he suffered a seizure. The police department says its officers did nothing wrong but Martinez’ family is preparing to take legal action.

The findings of the investigation, which were approved by the Los Angeles Police Commission in February and recently reviewed by The Eastsider, showed that the officers followed LAPD policy, said department spokeswoman Norma Eisenman. “The application of lethal force for each officer as indicated was objectively reasonable,” according an online summary of the investigation.

The fact that no disciplinary action was taken against the patrol officers involved prompted Martinez’ family to start taking the necessary steps to file a lawsuit against the LAPD, Benavides said.

“I feel bad they shot him in front of my face like they were hunting a deer. They took my daughter’s father away,” Benavidez said. “We have plenty of evidence and they will be hearing me in court.”

The online summary of the investigation does not identify Martinez or the officers by name but it provides a detailed look at the LAPD’s view of the events that lead up to the shooting of Martinez.

Martinez had just returned to Echo Park on March 19 of last year after being released from jail on an open container violation. As he waited near the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Echo Park Avenue for Benavides and his sister to buy tacos at a nearby food truck, sirens blared as an LAPD squad car came rushing down the street.  Officers were responding to a caller who had reported that a drunken gang member with a gun had fired two or three shots.

The officers, who said that Martinez fit the suspect’s description,  removed their guns out of their holsters and took cover behind the doors of their squad car, according to the investigaiton. A second squad car arrived, and the officers yelled at Martinez to raise his hands into the air. But Martinez kept moving back and forth, keeping his hands in his pockets and yelling obscenities at officers. Martinez then went behind a utility pole and removed a “black object” from his pocket and moved it back and forth between his hands, police said Martinez started running as one officer was unlocking his shotgun. The police summary then describes what happened next:

After running approximately 15 feet, the Subject stopped, turned 180 degrees to his right, and took approximately two steps toward the officers. Simultaneously, he raised his arms and acquired what appeared to be a two-hand shooting position as he extended his arms toward the officers.

As that occurred, Officers A, B, C and D, perceived the Subject was armed with a pistol and was preparing to shoot them. The officers engaged the Subject with their pistols.

The Subject was struck by the gunfire and fell to the ground.”

After Martinez was handcuffed, police searched him for weapons but found none. “However, a dark colored cellular phone was present on the ground adjacent to the Subject’s right shoulder,” according to the investigation summary. “The cellular phone had visible traces of blood and visible damage, suggesting it had been struck by a projectile.”

Police said the evidence and witness accounts supported the view that Martinez was using the cellphone to simulate a handgun. “Consequently, the application of lethal force for each officer as indicated was objectively reasonable,” according to the investigation.

Benavidez said the officers were familiar with Martinez. “They knew who he was and they knew who they were shooting at,” she said. “They knew he was a mental patient and they shot him anyway.”

Last August, Martinez’ mother, Angie Cano, joined a demonstration outside LAPD headquarters to protest this past summer’s officer-involved shooting of Ezell Ford in South L.A. Cano told the Daily News:

All the police shootings bring me back to it, because it just doesn’t stop. They’re killing people for no reason.”

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Lucy Guanuna has reported on a variety of issues, including business, education and social justice movements in her native Los Angeles. Her work has been published in the Daily Sundial, L.A. Activist, and the San Fernando Valley Business Journal.



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43 comments

  1. I have seen the video, and it’s pretty clear to me that Dizzy’s actions presented a credible threat to the officers.
    He was moving quickly AWAY from the officers, rounded a corner, lifted his arms up around chest level, then turned to move quickly TOWARDS the officers. As the cops rounded the corner, they see him with arms raised advancing towards them and they shoot.

    It’s sad the dude was killed being unarmed, but his actions .. at least in my opinion .. were justifiably seen as a credible threat.

    • “see him with arms raised” in my comment does not mean “arms raised above his head as in surrender”, but rather “arms raised at chest level, outstretched, pointing what looks like a gun in the direction of the officers”. Unfortunately, what looked like a gun turned out to be a cellphone.

    • FYI….He wasn’t killed from the shooting. He died two months later from a seizure.

    • you are a cop, or a wife of one… you are a plauge that is bloated with arrogance and is against the purpose of your employment!! (if you forgot, IT IS TO SERVE AND PROTECT!) There is an old place for the bullies in uniform and on the county drip , IT”S CALLED JAIL!!!!! I can sleep at night everytime i read one of the crooked are getting their rightfull bunk next to a balls out , unabashed homey that they were too soft to to see their commonality to. Dizzy was a cool and sweet fixture to our neighborhood, and theses cops are terrorists!!!!

    • “He was moving quickly AWAY from the officers, rounded a corner, lifted his arms up around chest level, then turned to move quickly TOWARDS the officers”, i.e., surrendering with his hands up. It’s sickening how oblivious you are to reality and how quick you are to justify the murder of every resident whose death is reported on this website.

      • read the comment again, dolt, or watch the video. He did not have his hands up in surrender, he had them stretched out forward with something in his hands, as you would if you had a gun and were about to shoot someone.

  2. Tony the Main Spoon

    @ so called “True Freedom”, so what transpired is just? Is his shooting warranted? There is more than this that meets the eye in this grainy video.

  3. R.I.P. Big homie “dizzy”
    We still got the block on lock homie.
    Que no .. Hahaha..

  4. this upstanding ciitizen produced a kid?

  5. yes I still remember

  6. The way he responded to the officers was dumb. Darwin had a pretty solid theory on this type of behavior.

  7. Ignorant people writing dumb shit, in this world theres people who hear about what happens who talk about what happen and people who make it happen so if you didn’t know know dz shut your front door….the cops knew him they knew he wasn’t n violent, we live in a nation where the government can kill you and get away with it, they not shouldn’t forget the second amendment cuz it only takes one person to start the movement and over throw this government where clearly dictatorship is where headed to.

    • @blackie : ” clearly dictatorship is where headed to.”
      must’ve seen the news about Obama’s executive order

      • An executive order to counter the tyranny of radical stupidity in congress was overdue. After all, not everyone is willing to impose their presence on this continent at gunpoint aka”Manifest Destiny” for which the epilogue and sequel is unfolding right now. Bigots like True Freedom should consider transplanting to the redoubt of Murrietta or elsewhere. This ain’t your pappy’s Caleeforny, aka Cali by the natives.

    • thinning out the herd

  8. Suicide by cop.

  9. Anyone who knew David/ Dizzy knows he was a threat to no one. The cops knew this, too, but they shot him anyway.
    I think they did it to improve the real estate value of Echo Park since he was the ring leader of the day drinkers at Montana and Echo Park Ave. notice that crew never came back after David was shot.
    The cops were wrong wrong wrong on this one.
    I heard him get shot and it was one of the worst things ever, knowing your neighbor has been gunned down by the LAPD and knowing he did not deserve it.
    I’ve lived in Echo Park for 20 years and it was the most violent shooting I have ever heard.
    I knew David for 15 years, lived on the same street as him and never once felt threatened by him. He and his wife were friendly, always said hello and were pretty good neighbors, actually, even with David’s alcoholism.
    Ahhh but I guess it’s the small sacrifice we make in our communities to help the real estate developers and house flippers.
    RIP David. I hope your family gets a nice payday so your kids can go to college.

  10. it was nice to see the homies expressing this degree of grief when Mickey David was gunned down by hood rats on the same spot. oh, wait, no it wasn’t.

  11. I WANNA THANK YOUS FOR YOUR NICE COMMENTS ABOUT MY DAVID MARTINEZ HE WAS SHOT KILLWD BY TRAMPART COPS I WAS THERE THEY SHOT LIKE HE WAS A DEER OR DOG THATS NOT FARE HE LEFT A DAUTHER BEHIND SO WHAT HE DRANK WHO DOESNT AND YES WERE GOING TO COURT THANKS TO DIZZYS MOM NEVER GAVE UP ME TO THIS COPS GOTTA STOP KILLING DIZZY WAS A NICE GUY I LOVE YOU BABE ALL SEE YOU ONE DAY IN PARADISE.. YOURS GINA BABY…

    • I MISS YOU DIZZY I LIGHT YOUR CANDLES ALWAYS I PRAY THAT YOUR OK BUT JUSTICE WILL HAPPEN GOD IS GOOD GOD IS GREAT AND ON YOUR SIDE OUR DAUTHER MISSES YOU WE LOVE YOU DAVID .M

  12. Ultimately, the officers killed an innocent man NOT the suspect they were presumably looking for. Not to mention the volley of stray bullets fired by several officers at a single unarmed man. Gross incompetence at best. They don’t deserve to wear the badge and should be immediately dismissed from the force.

    • Btw, it’s time that officers begin to be billed for these seemingly endless lawsuits due to their gross incompetence. Maybe protecting their own bank accounts will bolster their courage and increase their willingness to sacrifice and eliminate their sense of entitlement to taxpayer money. I wish Martinez’s family well and good luck with their lawsuit but Why The F’k should I have to pay for it?!? Just because a gang of officers aren’t willing to execute the job they signed-up for, i.e., risking THEIR lives.

      • No way given the evidence this lawsuit goes anywhere. The dude was an idiot for not complying with the officers. But then again, OJ and Robert Blake both walked. Oh LA of my youth where have you gone?

      • how about we make gang members and their families pay: restitution, pain/suffering to innocent victims, pay the millions of dollars each year for graffiti cleanup, pay for extra police patrols and detectives investigating their crimes. You pay a crap-load more money for the negative effects of gangs. Does that bother you?

      • do they have siracha sauce in heaven?

  13. Idiots! No heart at all . , You shit heads belong back east . This is ECHO PARK

    • This is ECHO PARK. But it is an ECHO PARK that doesn’t tolerate the BS anymore. If you can’t hang with that then you need to go back east. I hear Moreno Valley is nice this time of year.

  14. Did you know that the one who made the 911 call that someone was shorting was my son David MARTINEZ

  15. Miss twat blue iris, let’s get something straight , You belong Moreno valley . I am home owner in the Elysian Heights , born and raised in EP . About tolerate , you’ll tolerate my foot up your CULO ! hahhahaahahahahah

  16. in jail for an open container… was he like a former gang member with multiple arrests? how do you do time for an open container?

  17. Atwater pimp you mean gay pimp

    • @mario you are an abrasive adult cyber bully. pathetic. gay is no longer synonymous with bad you ignorant asshole. hope you get locked up in county for an “open container you douche bag. mario get a life.

  18. I wonder how many of you would be so out right racist if you had to post your photo with your comments. So easy to speak your crap when nobody knows what you look like or your real name. So sad.

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