Nearly four months after Los Angeles police officers shot a man in the face who had been asking for their help, handcuffing him as his brains spilled out of his head, the man has come forward and spoken to the media.
Walter DeLeon was left permanently brain-damaged. Blind in one eye. Deaf in one ear. Unable to feed, dress or go to the bathroom by himself.
But he is still able to think for himself, telling reporters that all he had in his hands that day was a bottle of water and a towel.
However, in the eyes of LAPD, it looked as if he was carrying a gun, so officers stepped out of their car and ordered him to drop the gun.
When DeLeon did not drop the gun he did not have, he was shot in the face.
A witness recorded a video in the immediate aftermath, showing a pair of cops handcuffing him as his brains spilled out.
Police said they were in fear for their lives because he came up to them in an “aggressive manner with his hands, or hand, wrapped in a piece of cloth,” obviously not even bothering to get their story straight about how many hands he had wrapped in the towel.
According to ABC 7:
DeLeon is alive after being in a two-week coma and undergoing four surgeries. Now he has a permanent disability. His mother wants the public to see images of her son’s disturbing head wounds, but what he wants exposed is a message.
“It’s that my words are not said in vain. That something does happen. That there is some type of change in the police force,” he said.
DeLeon now has a team mounting a legal challenge. Lawyers and the LAPD are at polar opposites over what exactly triggered the gunfire on June 19. The 49-year-old handyman was out for a walk along Los Feliz Boulevard. Officers said he looked like he was hiding a gun.
“Our initial statement was that Mr. DeLeon approached the police car in an aggressive manner with his hands, or hand, wrapped in a piece of cloth,” LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said.
“How threatening can I be toward them with a bottle of water and a towel?” DeLeon said.
“And then during that time, I needed help and I was going to ask the police something and I had the towel to dry my forehead,” he said.
“It’s like, wait a minute, it’s like shoot first and then ask questions later. Oh, he’s dead, he is not going to say anything. That is the model? That’s what they call ‘to protect and serve?’ Come on,” he said.
While to the casual observer, it would seem highly unlikely for somebody to survive getting shot in the face like that, PINAC investigator Felipe Hemming, who spent 25 years as a paramedic, predicted in June that he would survive.
PINAC investigative researcher Felipe Hemming, who spent 25 years as a paramedic, believes #MysteryMan was hit in the cheekbone, just to the left of the nose.
He noted that the incident’s proximity to four multiple Level 1 Trauma centers, along with improved surgical techniques, are the likely reason that #MysteryMan is still alive.
“These types of head wounds have a much higher survivability rate today.” he said.
DeLeon, 49, was a handyman, but now is unable to work and completely dependent on his mother and his sister, living in a home where they are now facing eviction
The two cops, meanwhile, are on paid administrative leave as the LAPD takes its time in “investigating” the incident. The cop who shot him has been identified as Cairo Palacios.
DeLeon’s family, which has filed notice that it plans on suing, is trying to raise money through this link.