LOS ANGELES, CA – Jurors were convicted Thursday against a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy charged with intentional homicide for the shooting death of a man at a Norwalk gas station nearly six years ago.
The Los Angeles Superior Court panel is expected to continue its deliberations Friday morning in the context of Luke Liu’s trial.
Deputy District Attorney Chris Baker told jurors in closing arguments that Liu “made one tragically wrong decision after another and” killed a non-violent, unarmed man while chasing him “and shot him in the back.
But defense attorney Michael D. Schwartz countered that the prosecution’s account “cannot match the circumstantial evidence” and urged the panel to acquit his client.
Liu, now 42, was charged in December 2018 with the murder of Francisco Garcia on February 24, 2016, outside a 7-Eleven at 10962 Alondra Blvd., marking the first such prosecution. in the county for nearly two decades at the time. .
Garcia, 26, had stopped at a gas pump, the assistant checking vehicle license plates then pulled up behind the white 1993 Acura Integra that had been reported stolen.
The 26-year-old attempted to pull away at around 5 mph, authorities said, was hit by four of the seven shots fired by Liu – two in the lower back and one each in the shoulders and knee – and crashed into a sign at the station.
After the shooting, Liu got the man out of the vehicle and performed CPR on him before the paramedics arrived. Garcia died in hospital.
Prosecutor called shooting “unreasonable,” “unnecessary” and “illegal,” telling jurors Garcia took off so slowly the deputy was able to run and “shoot again and again” and Garcia had nowhere where to go but in rush hour traffic blocking the driveway.
The deputy’s lawyer told jurors that his client was not acting deliberately with disregard for human life but that he was “protecting his own” and “acting to stop a threat”.
Liu believed that the man may have hit a gun and felt the vehicle come in contact with him or hit him before the shots were fired, Schwartz said in his argument.
The defense lawyer told jurors that the prosecution had the burden of proving that the shooting was not committed in “self-defense”.
In a statement released shortly after Liu’s indictment, then Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said, “We believe the officer’s use of lethal force was unwarranted and unreasonable in the circumstances. “
Sheriff officials said shortly after the shooting that the deputy feared for his life. They then said the MP suffered minor injuries when he was hit by the vehicle.
A doctor who examined Liu after being taken to Long Beach Memorial Medical Center saw no bruises or injuries of any kind, Baker told jurors as the trial began on November 3.
Liu, a 10-year-old veteran assigned to the Cerritos police station, was placed on administrative leave in December 2018. His current status within the department was not immediately available.
Los Angeles County agreed in 2018 to pay Garcia’s family $ 1.75 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit.
City News Service