L.A. deputies shot man 9 times in back

September 12, 1991|By Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES -- A mentally disturbed man who was killed last month by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies was shot nine times in the back, with several of the bullets apparently striking his body as he lay "against the pavement or concrete in a face-down position," according to a copy of the sealed autopsy report obtained yesterday by the Los Angeles Times.

The county coroner's report also shows that 33-year-old Keith Hamilton suffered head, mouth, elbow, and knee injuries, indicating deputies struck Mr. Hamilton with batons, his family's attorney says.

The original report from the Sheriff's Department makes no mention of Mr. Hamilton's being shot while face down, nor of his other injuries. The report, also obtained by the Times, simply states that he was shot twice Aug. 13 with an electric stun gun, and that "a fight ensued . . . resulting with the suspect being shot by deputies."

"This was an unjustified, senseless homicide by deputies who overreacted," said Steve Lerman, attorney for Mr. Hamilton's family.

Mr. Lerman, who also is representing Rodney G. King, characterized the Hamilton shooting as "much more revolting" than what happened during the videotaped beating of King by Los Angeles police officers.

Officials with the Sheriff's Department had previously acknowledged that Mr. Hamilton was shot nine times, but had said only that he was struck in the "upper part of his body." They also said that Mr. Hamilton grabbed one deputy's leg and was reaching for a knife when deputies opened fire.

Mr. Hamilton, a former mental patient, was black, while the deputies who shot him are white.

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