STUDIO CITY—On Tuesday, July 31, the Los Angeles Police Department released video footage of officers fatally shooting a man, and a woman being held hostage. LAPD Police Chief Michel Moore confirmed that the incident is 1 of 2 recent cases in which LAPD officers have fatally shot hostages. Prior to these events, the LAPD has not shot a hostage in 13 years. The incident shown in the recording took place on June 16.
The footage released came from officers’ body-worn cameras on the day of the incident. Police received a 911 call of a report of a man who stabbed his ex-girlfriend at Central Lutheran Church in Van Nuys. The church provides food and other services for people struggling with homelessness. The woman was transported to a nearby hospital with injuries that were not life threatening.
Officers spotted the suspect, who was identified as 32-year-old Guillermo Perez, walking near the church holding a large knife and a metal folding chair. In the video, one officer shouts at Perez, “Drop the knife!” Perez ignored the officer, who fired multiple rounds at him from a beanbag shotgun, which fires a small sack full of metal pellets. Perez used the chair that he was holding as a shield from the pellets.
He walked backwards toward a woman who was standing nearby. Perez grabbed the woman and held the knife up to her neck, dropping the metal chair. The woman has been identified as Elizabeth Tollison. Three officers opened fire from their handguns, firing a total of 18 rounds. Both Perez and Tollison were killed by the gunfire. The officers involved in the shooting have been identified by the LAPD as Eugene Damiano, Cristian Bonilla and Andrew Trock.
Cmdr. Alan Hamilton, who leads the unit responsible for investigating police shootings later said that Perez moved the knife “in a sawing motion against her throat and cut her throat.” In a standoff that recently transpired at a Trader Joe’s in Silver Lake, Chief Moore confirmed that a worker inside the store, Melyda Corado was killed by LAPD gunfire before the aggressor could take hostages.
Moore said that the incident involving Perez was “Another case where officers were forced to make split-second decisions based on the actions of a violent individual.”
“Hostages’ lives are priority and recruits are taught to use ‘precise head shot,’” said Moore. Moore indicated that there will be an investigation to determine whether or not the officer’ actions line up with the LAPD’s hostage training procedures. Moore assured the public that the LAPD will implement a new training program and explore new ways of equipping officers with non-lethal weapons, in light of recent events.
Tollison’s family filed a claim with the city of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Police Department on Wednesday, August 1.