Police release dramatic footage of officers shooting armed man after alleged carjacking, robbery

Long Beach police Thursday released body-worn camera video footage of officers shooting and critically injuring a 28-year-old man accused of a string of crimes including a carjacking and armed robbery of a Food 4 Less in Signal Hill earlier this month.

At 10:45 p.m. on Aug. 8, Signal Hill police arrived at the grocery store where witnesses pointed out the car believed to be driven by the robber. The driver, identified as Leonides Enriquez of Bellflower, fled the scene with $500 cash, LBPD Chief Robert Luna said Thursday shortly before the video was released publicly.

The Signal Hill officers pursued the car but lost sight of it near Pacific Avenue and Willow Street, and also notified Long Beach police.

Minutes later, Long Beach police happened upon a two-vehicle collision near Harbor Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway. One of the vehicles matched the description of the armed robbery suspect’s car but was unoccupied, according to the department’s report.

A witness to the crash said the driver ran southbound, pointing out a man near a temporary taco stand at the corner of Esther Street and Harbor Avenue, seemingly hiding behind a truck, Luna said. Officers approached the suspect, who complied with directions sporadically, the video shows.

Officers had the suspect move toward the front of a police cruiser and identified a gun in his front pocket. Enriquez was told to put his hands on the hood of the vehicle, which he did but then repeatedly removed them only to be commanded to put them back.

“It’s a matter of life and death for everyone involved,” Luna said, urging the public to follow officer demands.

Finally, officers told Enriquez to get on his knees. He can be seen taking a step back from the cruiser and moving his hands toward his waist before two officers fired two rounds each. Enriquez was hit multiple times but police are not sure exactly how many bullets struck him, Luna said.

After being shot, Enriquez can be heard saying, “I was just trying to get on my knees.”

Officers did not provide medical aid to Enriquez for about one minute, as he had fallen with his hand out of sight near where he had concealed the gun, Luna said. Once officers were able to determine he was not holding the gun, they approached and handcuffed Enriquez, confiscated the loaded firearm from his pocket and began administering aid until the Long Beach Fire Department arrived on scene and transported him to a local hospital in critical condition.

As of Thursday afternoon, Enriquez remains hospitalized in critical but stable condition, Luna said.

During the subsequent investigation of the incident, police discovered Enriquez is the suspect in a string of crimes that began even before the grocery store robbery. Just over 30 minutes before the officer-involved shooting, Enriquez is accused of shooting at a woman in Bellflower moments before stealing a car from a family of four.

A few minutes later, police say Enriquez was involved in a hit-and-run at Del Amo Boulevard and Cherry Avenue before arriving at the Food 4 Less.

Enriquez, who has previously been charged with three felonies and five misdemeanors, is facing a host of charges, including three counts of assault with a firearm, assault with a deadly weapon, carjacking, three counts of armed robbery and illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition by an ex-felon.

According to Luna, the officers who shot Enriquez joined the LBPD in September 2016 and November 2018 and this was the first shooting either has been involved in. Both officers returned to duty this past weekend after mandatory retraining at the academy and a psychological evaluation, Luna added.

Luna said he had some “concerns” with the incident, as he does with all police shootings.

“There are some things that we may have done a little bit differently,” he said. “[But] we haven’t had the entire review yet.”

Luna declined to elaborate on his concerns.

The shooting is under internal investigation by the Long Beach department and a separate independent investigation will be conducted by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. Luna said the investigations will not be complete for months.

Luna said police encounters with armed suspects have increased in recent months. He said the department is removing an average of 20 guns from the street per week and that, as of Aug. 8, 369 armed suspects had been arrested by LBPD. To date, the department has recorded four police shootings.

The video was released Thursday in response to a new state law that requires departments to release footage of police shootings and other use of force incidents in which officers cause “great bodily harm.” The video must be released within 45 days of the incident.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that police are removing 20 guns from the street per week, not per day. 

Police shoot, critically wound man suspected of robbing grocery store at gunpoint, LBPD says

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Brandon Richardson is a business reporter, covering everything from real estate and healthcare to the airport and port to city hall and the economy. He is a Long Beach native who has been with the Business Journal since graduating from Long Beach City College in spring 2016 with an associate’s degree in journalism. He is an avid record collector and concert goer.