Los Angeles County police officers removed from duty after killing double amputee

Anthony Lowe Jr, who lost both his legs last year after an incident with a Texas State Patrol trooper and was allegedly armed with a knife, was shot by police in Huntington Park

Anthony Lowe Jr
Two police officers confront Anthony Lowe Jr. on Slauson Avenue, Huntington, California, on January 26.RR SS

Tensions are running high in California after the latest known case of alleged police brutality in the US has come to light. The family of Anthony Lowe Jr, a 36-year-old Black man who had both legs amputated last year, are demanding justice for what they consider a new racist murder by law enforcement officials. Lowe’s family are demanding that police in the city of Huntington Park, in southern Los Angeles County, California, release footage of officers responding to an emergency call that culminated in the death of Lowe, who was wheelchair-bound. The authorities claim that the suspect was wielding a knife, but family members are refusing to accept this version of events and have called the events another episode of alleged police brutality in the United States.

The incident took place on January 26 and had gone almost unnoticed due to media attention on the death of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols at the hands of five police officers in Memphis, Tennessee on January 7. The subsequent release of video footage of the officers, who were all African-American, beating Nichols sparked nationwide protests and reopened the debate on police brutality in the US. Lowe’s family are now demanding the Huntington Park Police Department make body-cam footage public to clarify what happened.

The police state that last Thursday, shortly after 3pm, officers responded to an emergency call over a stabbing on Slauson Avenue in Huntington Park. When police arrived on the scene, they were told by a witness that the suspect was “an adult Black man in a wheelchair.” Lowe was located a short distance away, on the same street. “When Huntington Park Officers attempted to detain the suspect, the suspect retrieved a 12″ butcher knife from his person and threatened them by attempting to throw the knife at the officers,” the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

According to the official report, Lowe resisted arrest and was tased “at least twice by Huntington Park Officers,” which proved ineffective. “The suspect attempted to throw the butcher knife at the officers again, at which time an officer involved shooting occurred,” the report continues, adding that a butcher knife was recovered at the scene.

Officers are seen drawing their weapons as they approach Anthony Lowe Jr. Video: RR SS

However, a video taken by a driver passing by and uploaded on social media shows Lowe attempting to run on his amputated stumps in what appears to be a desperate attempt to flee the two officers, both of whom have their sidearms drawn. The suspect appears to have a knife in his left hand. The 23-second clip was uploaded to Twitter on January 28 but does not capture the officers shooting at Lowe because a police cruiser enters the frame, blocking the view of the witness.

“He’s down from his wheelchair, he’s got both legs amputated up to his knee and he’s running from officers,” Cliff Smith, an activist who is part of a coalition calling for increased controls and regulation on police procedures, said on Monday. Smith joined Lowe’s family at a press conference outside the Huntington Park Police Department to demand justice for what they say is another example of police brutality. In California, officers are only permitted to use their firearms when necessary to defend human life.

“You knew there was no danger to life. He’s running on his limbs. How can you be so cold-blooded?” one of the Lowe’s cousins asked the police. Another family member said: “If you are here to protect and serve, do that, protect us. Don’t kill us.” Lowe’s mother, Dorothy, told the media that she only wants to know what happened. “Nothing but the truth and justice. My son has been murdered,” she said.

Both Lowe’s family and activists have requested that the officers involved be prosecuted for murder. The authorities have so far remained silent over this demand but a police spokesman stated that the officers will remain off duty while they undergo psychological examinations. When they return to their posts, they will temporarily be removed from street patrol duties and tasked with administrative work.

Thursday was not the first time Anthony Lowe Jr. had a violent encounter with police officers. His older sister told the media on Monday that both his legs were amputated after an incident with a Texas State Patrol trooper. The family also harbors doubts about that episode, which occurred last year, but have not offered any further details regarding it.

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