LA County sheriff's deputy charged in 'unlawful shooting' of man in East LA

A sheriff's deputy was charged with two felonies stemming from the fatal shooting of a 34-year-old man in East Los Angeles in full view of his relatives, who said the man was in the midst of a mental health crisis at the time, the District Attorney's Office announced Thursday.

Deputy Remin Pineda was charged with assault with a semiautomatic firearm and assault under color of authority, prosecutors said. An arraignment date was not immediately set.

The charges stem from the March 14, 2021, shooting of David Ordaz Jr., whose family later filed federal lawsuit against the sheriff's department, alleging that he was shot in the back while lying on the ground, posing no threat to deputies who responded to the scene.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva last year said he had "grave concerns" about the circumstances of the shooting.

Ordaz was a father of three.

"Unlawful and excessive force at the hands of police erodes the public trust and leads to further divisions between law enforcement and the communities they serve," District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement announcing the charges. "It is imperative that we hold law enforcement accountable when they act unlawfully. This tragic killing of Mr. Ordaz in the presence of his own family has caused tremendous harm that will reverberate for years to come."

Deputies went to the family's home in East Los Angeles in response to a call from Ordaz's relatives, who reported that he was suicidal and had a knife, authorities said.

Prosecutors said deputies initially fired bean-bag rounds at Ordaz when he walked toward them while holding the knife. Ordaz allegedly continued to advance on deputies with the knife, drawing gunfire from multiple deputies, authorities said. Prosecutors allege that while Ordaz was on the ground and had dropped the knife, Pineda continued firing his weapon at him.

Video of the shooting was posted on YouTube. The sheriff's department also later released body-camera footage from the shooting scene.

The family's federal lawsuit contends deputies used excessive force.

"In fact, the coroners report shows that all of the bullets except two, struck him on the back and on the side and the final bullet as visualized in the video shows a helpless David Ordaz Jr. looking up from the pavement without any weapon, and the killing shot was fired into his chest," the lawsuit alleges.

Body-worn camera footage indicates that at least 10 rounds were fired, including a single shot fired immediately after the flurry of gunfire had stopped and Ordaz was lying face up on the sidewalk, holding his shoulder.