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Yesterday, the Los Angeles Police Commission determined that the first four shots LAPD Officer Toni McBride fired at Daniel Hernandez last April were justified — while the final two were not. McBride, a “cop influencer” with more than 97,000 followers on Instagram, shot Hernandez a total of six times, killing the 38-year-old father at the scene of a car crash.
The crash occurred April 22 at about 5:38 p.m. on San Pedro Street, near East 32nd Street, in South Los Angeles. According to 911 recordings released by the LAPD, witnesses said a speeding black pickup hit another vehicle, causing a multi-car collision. One caller said the man who caused the crash was in his car, cutting himself with a knife.
Footage from McBride’s body camera shows Hernandez walking slowly toward her moments after she got out of her patrol car. The knife, which Hernandez’s family said was similar to a razor he used in his work as a carpet installer, still in his hand. McBride asks her partner about less-lethal options but receives no response. After yelling at Hernandez to drop the knife a few times, she opens fire. The first two shots knock Hernandez down. She then shoots him two more times as he attempts to get up and another two times as he’s on the ground. Officers arriving as backup do not immediately render aid. They’re seen tossing the knife away before handcuffing Hernandez as he lies completely motionlessly on the pavement.
The LAPD also released footage captured by a bystander, and it joins the body camera video and 911 calls on YouTube. Bear in mind the footage is graphic.
Previously, LAPD Chief Michel Moore had ruled that all six shots were warranted, while the inspector general’s office was in line with the police commission’s 4-1 ruling that only the first four shots were justified. Moore will be the one who decides if McBride will be disciplined and, if so, how.
McBride is the daughter of Jamie McBride, an LAPD detective and a board member of the Los Angeles Police Protective League. McBride herself is very popular on Instagram, where she frequently posts photos and videos of herself shooting guns at Taran Tactical Innovations in Simi Valley. Yesterday, she posted a photo of herself in front of a red garage door with the caption, “What a great day to be alive. Like I’ve said before, God is good. Count your blessings. Sometimes you just gotta smile through all the BS that comes your way & just laugh at it or give it a [hang loose hand emoji].” It has over 10,000 likes.
McBride briefly removed her profile following the shooting but is now hawking a $25 “challenge coin” featuring an LAPD badge on one side and her name, a three-leaf clover — an image affiliated with the LAPD Newton Division to which McBride is assigned — and the phrase, “Hold the line” on the other. According to reporting by L.A. Taco, the coin may violate the official LAPD badge trademark, which is owned by the City of Los Angeles, as well as LAPD policy. Officers are not permitted to use their position or online platforms to endorse or sell products or to promote “political, social, or religious beliefs.” In addition to her coin, McBride also promotes various athletic apparel brands. She also frequently posts about God, and on Election Day, she posted a photo featuring a Trump flag with a caption about loving her president and being a proud American.
The case highlights the divide in the conversation over police use of force in the U.S. McBride may have shot an armed man who was walking toward her, but activists have long argued that there should be other ways of responding to people who need help or de-escalation. According to the L.A. Times, just 75 seconds passed from when McBride exited her car to when she fired her first round from approximately 20 feet away. And what about that less-lethal option she asked for? McBride’s partner was also determined to have been out of policy, relating to the requirement that officers work as a team.
McBride’s lawyer, Larry Hanna, has argued that his client “had fear at all times and was shooting at somebody she felt was coming at her and … toward the other citizens who were out there.”
Hernandez’s family believes she could have de-escalated the situation before firing or bought herself more time by moving back behind a car. The family’s lawyer, Arnoldo Casillas, told the Times, “She loves to shoot all these things as fast as she can. That certainly is in stark contrast to the measured, cautious police officer, exhibiting a reverence for life. This isn’t a movie.”
A criminal investigation led by the California attorney general is pending, as former L.A. County District Attorney Jackie Lacey recused herself from the case. Meanwhile, Hernandez’s family has filed two wrongful death suits against McBride and the LAPD.