Preventable 'execution': Family of man shot by LASD sues county

The family and lawyer of a man shot and killed by Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department deputies in January called his death a preventable, unnecessary "execution," after the department released body camera footage of the incident.

Charlie Towns, 47, from Pasadena, was shot and killed after deputies witnessed him stabbing people with scissors in Altadena on Jan. 22. According to LASD, deputies were called to a gas station on the corner of Fair Oaks Avenue and Woodbury Road, for reports that he was chasing people and trying to stab them. 

Deputies followed Towns, at one point getting out of the patrol car and asking him to drop his weapon. They then got back in the car and continued following him, until they saw him stab an elderly woman and try to stab a man. That's when Towns was shot.

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Towns then went down, and struggled to get up despite deputies' clearly shouted commands to "stay down." Deputies shot again, and Towns was declared dead at the scene.

Towns was a father, a part-time maintenance man, and someone who struggled with substance abuse and housing, according to his family. 

Caree Harper, who's representing the family in a federal civil rights lawsuit against the department an "execution," saying that Towns was no longer a threat once he went down the first time, and that he could have been taken into custody by other means. Harper is a former cop herself, and said deputies could have intervened and tried to stop Towns much earlier, rather than following him until he attacked pedestrians. 

The department however, maintains that Towns continued to be a threat after getting up after the initial shooting, saying he "advanced" on deputies, before being shot for the last time. But Harper said the department was just trying to justify additional gunfire on a man who was no longer armed.

The family's lawsuit alleges deputies were negligent in the shooting. If it comes to trial, every shot fired must be justified. 

The LASD called the shooting "tragic," but offered no further comment.

Meanwhile, per state protocol, the shooting is now being investigated by the California Attorney General's office. As of Monday, the office said it has "no update" into its investigation.