Two Torrance police officers were indicted in connection with the 2018 shooting death of a Black man who was discovered sitting inside a car that had been reported stolen, holding an air rifle, more than three years after the district attorney’s office initially declined to file charges against them.
Officer Matthew Concannon’s attorney claimed that both his client and Officer Anthony Chavez had been charged in relation to the 23-year-old Christopher DeAndre Mitchell’s passing.
When it came to using deadly force against Mitchell on December 9, 2018, then-District Attorney Jackie Lacey’s office decided against pressing any charges against the two officers in 2019. Mitchell was discovered in a black Honda Civic that had been reported stolen in the parking lot of a supermarket.
“The evidence examined in this investigation shows that Mitchell was driving a stolen car. He was about to be detained for investigation of a possible grand theft auto,” according to a charge-evaluation worksheet prepared by prosecutors at the time. “As the responding officers approached, they observed what they reasonably perceived to be a firearm in Mitchell’s lap. Mitchell made movements toward the weapon … Although the weapon was later determined to be an air rifle, the officers’ belief that the weapon was a firearm was reasonable under the circumstances.”
Black Lives Matter protesters regularly demonstrated at Torrance City Council meetings for months after Mitchell’s passing, criticizing the shooting time and time again. It was also mentioned in a number of demonstrations directed at Lacey, who BLM protesters accused of being unwilling to bring charges against law enforcement officials.
The tweet below confirms the news:
2 Torrance police officers indicted over fatal shooting of man sitting in car, holding air rifle https://t.co/oMJ03wHDdW
— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) April 14, 2023
During his campaign, Gascón vowed to investigate police shootings more thoroughly.
According to the 2019 D.A. review, a man flagged down Torrance police around 8 p.m. Dec. 9, 2018, near 220th Street and Western Avenue, saying his Civic had been stolen. A short time later, surveillance video captured the vehicle being pulled into a Ralphs parking lot on West Carson Street.
As they entered the parking lot, Chavez and Concannon used their patrol car to block the Honda in place.
Police Shooting of Gang Member Mitchell During Traffic Stop
The cops stepped out of their car, approached the Honda and saw Mitchell in the driver’s seat, the report said. The officers yelled “police” and told Mitchell to put his hands on the steering wheel, which — after a moment’s hesitation — he did. Concannon opened the door, the report added. Mitchell, according to the investigation, dropped his hands into his lap and Concannon — following Mitchell’s movement — observed what he thought was a handgun, the report said.
Concannon drew his gun and instructed Mitchell not to move. Mitchell, who police said later was believed to be a gang member, restored his hands to the wheel, apologized again, and then dropped his hands again.
Concannon, the report says, grasped his rifle with both hands. But, according to body camera footage released later, it’s not apparent whether Mitchell dropped his hands a second time since Concannon covered the view of his body-worn camera when he grasped the revolver. The district attorney’s report admitted this, too.
“Mitchell is not visible on the body-worn footage during the three seconds preceding the first shot,” the report said, noting Concannon ordered Mitchell to get out of the car. “About one second after repeating that command, the first shot was fired.” Three shots total were fired, one by Concannon and two by Chavez, according to the report.
Concannon and Chavez waited for backup and, after it was evident there was no further threat, cops attempted life-saving procedures on Mitchell. But he died from his injuries.
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