A Los Angeles County Sheriff deputy accidentally shot and killed an innocent resident in front of his home during a firefight with a wanted criminal who had barricaded himself inside, officials said on Saturday.
A deputy mistook Frank Mendoza, who was attempting to flee his Pico Rivera, California home, for an armed parolee who had just broken into the house when the officer shot and killed the innocent man on Friday evening, Los Angeles County Sheriff Chief Bill McSweeney told a press conference.
"This incident was beyond tragic, and all of law enforcement grieves with the Mendoza family," he said.
The wanted parolee, Cedric Ramirez, broke into a rear window of Mendoza's home in an attempt to elude pursuing police. Officers began evacuating the home of its residents when Ramirez opened fire on them.
Police fell back to a defensive position on the front lawn, and moments later Mendoza stepped through the front doorway. Believing the man was Ramirez, a deputy fired two shots, striking and killing him.
McSweeney said police recovered Mendoza and took him to awaiting paramedics but they "regrettably could not revive him."
Ramirez remained in the house after the accidental shooting, holding Mendoza's wife as a hostage for hours. After negotiations with Ramirez failed, a SWAT team stormed the house and fatally shot Ramirez, McSweeney said. Mendoza's wife was not injured.
McSweeney said that authorities were investigating the incident to assess whether the officers fully complied with the law and department policy.
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