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Police shootings ruled justified

District attorney's office clears three Glendale officers in two fatal events.

April 28, 2012|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office has cleared Glendale police officers in three recent shootings — two of them fatal, including one in January in which the suspect sent an email all but admitting to plans for “suicide by cop.”

Prosecutors found that Glendale officers acted in “lawful self-defense” in all three shootings, including a gun battle between officers and a Rosamond man who was killed in September on San Fernando Road, a Jan. 5 incident in which a man was killed after threatening police with a knife, and a non-fatal shooting in North Hollywood in June 2011.

“In these types of incidents, officers have to make split-second decisions in stressful situations,” Glendale Police Chief Ron De Pompa said this week.”I am proud of them, as I am sure the community thanks them for their service.”

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In the Jan. 5 incident, Glendale police arrived to an alley on Riverside Drive after receiving a call from Richard Hughes' girlfriend that he had overdosed, according to the district attorney's report on the shootings.

After an officer at the scene heard screaming and items breaking, Hughes reportedly stuck his head out a window and urged police to use him for target practice.

Police took cover behind a parked truck, with Hughes emerging a short time later holding a knife. After ignoring several demands to drop the knife, and after getting within what police described as striking distance, an officer fired one round into Hughes' chest.

Police later found two knives next to Hughes, who died at the hospital from the gunshot wound.

Prosecutors discovered that Hughes had a history of psychological problems and had told his girlfriend two days before the shooting that he would make police shoot him.

He sent an email during the incident that stated, “Cops are here ia m (sic) making them shoot me. I loved you … but it's too late. I never mattered to you … today I die. I DIE NOW,” according to the report.

In the other fatal shooting incident four months earlier, police officers engaged in a shootout with Antonio Tafolla-Diaz about 2.25 a.m. at Glendale Avenue and San Fernando Road, killing the Toonerville gang member in a barrage of gunfire.

Earlier that morning on Sept. 30, Glendale police officers were patrolling the area when they suddenly heard gunfire. They turned around and stopped a pedestrian, who told police he saw Tafolla-Diaz standing at the intersection.

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