The family of the suspect killed in a deputy-involved shooting north of Castaic last week has criticized the handling of the case, while investigators say they’re following standard procedure.
Early Friday, a GoFundMe page was set up to support the family members of Adrian Sanchez, 34, of Long Beach. Sanchez was killed in a deputy-involved shooting near Templin Highway Aug. 11 after he reportedly attempted to flee custody and dragged the deputy with his car, according to law enforcement officials.
The page, which was reportedly set up by the mother of the victim, alleges that the investigators have not provided body cam or dashcam footage to the family, and that there were no witnesses to have come forward. The author of the page also states other information has been withheld from them since the shooting.
“Throughout this past week, we have attempted to find out the truth of what happened that day,” reads the GoFundMe page. “However, we have been denied access to his body, his property and information of the incident.”
The Signal has reached out to the creator of the fundraiser, as well as someone who identified themselves as Sanchez’s brother, but has yet to hear back as of the publication of this story.
However, investigators with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department responded to the allegations, saying that the investigation was ongoing and certain things were still being processed since the shooting on Aug. 11.
“There’s no body cam footage, there’s no dashcam footage (because) that station won’t be online until their new station comes online,” said Lt. Robert Westphal, of LASD Homicide Bureau, in reference to the bodycam program with the department. The Signal previously reported in April that sheriff’s officials anticipated deploying body-worn cameras at the new Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station by the end of summer.
Westphal also said the autopsy on the body had been completed on Thursday and the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office would be in charge of releasing the body.
“We do have some civilians that call 911, reporting the incident,” said Westphal. “And so, we do have some witnesses.”
The detectives in charge of the case have spoken with the wife of the victim, Westphal said, and the property that was found at the scene has been admitted into evidence.
“All so far, yes, based on the suspect’s actions,” said Westphal, when asked if the shooting was still being seen as justified by investigators. “But we’re still only a week into this investigation, so we have a lot of things to still investigate. But I can say at this point in the investigation, there’s nothing to indicate anything different.”
Westphal added that the ultimate determination on the actions of the deputy involved in the shooting would be left to the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office.
“It’s not up to the Sheriff’s Department to decide,” said Westphal. “We just collect the facts and we present it to the District Attorney, and so it’s up to them to decide, and they issue a letter eventually determining if the actions were justified.”
A few hours after the shooting was reported at 12:15 p.m., officials said that Sanchez had broken free from a deputy on the side of the freeway after the law enforcement official pulled him over for a traffic violation.
Sanchez, Westphal said the day of the incident, was able to get back to his own car and begin to drive away.
“The suspect drove away with the deputy being dragged by his car,” Westphal added. “He crashed through a chain-link fence onto the shoulder of the southbound 5 freeway, still dragging the deputy.”
After crashing through the fence again, the deputy-involved shooting occurred, Westphal said.
The coroner’s records online show the “case status” as closed and the cause of death to be gunshot wounds.