LAPD Releases Another Highly Edited Video Of The Trader Joe's Shooting

A screenshot from a new video released by the LAPD appears to show the moment when police say suspect Gene Evans Atkins opened fire on pursuing officers. Atkins has been charged with multiple felony counts related to the shooting and standoff that occurred at the Silver Lake Trader Joe's store in July. (Photo courtesy of LAPD)

By Mary Plummer and Brian Frank

The Los Angeles Police Department has released more video and audio recordings from the Trader Joe's standoff and officer shooting in Silver Lake that left a store manager dead.

The LAPD had already released similar material following the July incident. This latest release includes additional 911 call recordings and video footage from in-vehicle and body worn cameras. It's part of a new LAPD policy to release any recordings made during an officer-involved shooting within 45 days.

The footage, released in a single video on YouTube, appears to back the department's previous claims that the suspect opened fire on officers during a pursuit that started in South L.A. But it sheds little, if any, new light on who was responsible for Melyda Corado's death or whether the officers acted in policy when they opened fire in front of a crowded store.

In the video, LAPD public information director Josh Rubenstein explains that the department has not reached any conclusions on the matter, as there is still a "tremendous amount of witness interviews to conduct and body worn videos to analyze."

"We're at the very early stages of this investigation, which can often take up to a year to complete, and our understanding of the incident may change as this additional evidence is collected, analyzed and reviewed," Rubenstein said.

Attorneys for Corado told LAist/KPCC that the department at first offered to let them review the latest video ahead of its public release, but then reversed their decision.

Speaking at a press conference at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown L.A., the family criticized the department's decision to release what they said was an edited and highly produced video.

"All of the videos should be released as opposed to video that's selected by the department, that's narrated by the department, that's edited by the department," family attorney John Taylor said.

Attorneys for the family said they believed the shooting was out of policy and that the department has not been transparent about what happened. They also questioned the coroner's report and why toxicology reports were ordered for Corado.

Taylor said it was the first time the family has spoken publicly since the shooting.

"It's absolutely devastating for them to still process this," he said.

LAPD officials have said they cannot release any more footage in part because of the ongoing criminal case against the suspect, 28-year-old Gene Evan Atkins.

Police say that on July 21 Atkins became angry with his grandmother, shot her multiple times and stole her car. He also shot and kidnapped a girl, taking her with him in the car, according to police.

Investigators learned the vehicle was equipped with LoJack and managed to track the suspect down. When they attempted to stop him, police say Atkins led them on a pursuit that lasted about 15 minutes, ending when he crashed into a utility pole in front of the Silver Lake Trader Joe's. Officers exchanged gunfire with him. One of the rounds fired by officers hit Atkins in the arm. Another struck Corado, killing her.

SO WHAT DOES THE LATEST VIDEO SHOW?

You can watch the full video below or read the recap that follows. Warning: the video includes some graphic content and language that may be offensive to some.

The first piece of audio comes from a 911 call.

"I think it's my aunt's grandson just shot her and now he's leaving in her car," the caller can be heard saying.

The dispatcher takes information on which way the suspect fled.

The video then cuts to a second 911 call from a neighbor across the street who reported multiple shots and described someone screaming and calling for help.

"OK, so there's a guy who, uh, who has a little girl, and she has blood everywhere," the caller says, adding that she saw the suspect leaving the house and carrying a lady with blood.

Next the video cuts to footage from the dash cam.

During the pursuit, officers learn from dispatch that the suspect was wanted for attempted murder, according to LAPD Commander Alan Hamilton, who occasionally appears on screen to narrate, along with on-screen captions.

At one point, the suspect's car is seen stopped at a gas station near Virgil Avenue and Beverly Boulevard. He's seen getting out of the car, and Hamilton explains that he tried to carjack another vehicle but failed, got back in the car and continued fleeing.

The next clip shows the right front tire come off of the suspect's car and wobble and roll down the street behind it. At this point, the chase has reached Bellevue Avenue east of Silver Lake Boulevard. Someone can be heard saying that five police cars are in pursuit.

Hamilton next says that the suspect fired at officers through the rear windshield. In a zoomed-in, slowed down replay, what looks like three successive puffs of smoke and glass shattering can be seen coming from the rear window. An officer is heard shouting "Shots fired!"

In the next clip, the primary squad car chases the suspect's vehicle into the vicinity of the Trader Joe's store.

The passenger officer says, "Alright, partner. I got my gun out," then curses. The officer who is driving can be heard saying, "Do not, do not shoot."

What happens next unfolds in seconds. The driver says, "Broadcast to the airship, we're going to keep our distance because of shots fired."

An instant later, the suspect crashes into the utility pole in front of the store. The pursuit vehicle comes to a stop, the suspect steps out of the vehicle, and gunshots can be heard as he turns and runs into the store. There appears to be a flash near the suspect's hand as shots are heard, and then a puff of dust and what looks like debris falling from the outside wall of the store.

In the body worn camera videos — first from the officer who is driving and next from his partner — both of them can be seen exiting the vehicle and firing on the suspect from behind their car doors before ducking behind a low wall at the edge of the parking lot. A ricochet can be heard. Hamilton says that the suspect had fired upon the officers and that one bullet struck a metal pole near the wall where they were taking cover.

Hamilton then adds that one of the bullets fired by the officers struck the suspect in the arm, and another hit Melyda Corado, the store manager.

Atkins faces multiple felony counts, including murder and attempted murder. Here's the full list of charges the district attorney's office filed against him:

  • 1 count of murder
  • 6 counts of attempted murder
  • 1 count of kidnapping
  • 13 counts of false imprisonment of a hostage
  • 1 count of assault with a firearm
  • 4 counts of assault upon a peace officer with a semiautomatic firearm
  • 1 count of reckless evading of a peace officer
  • 1 count of grand theft auto
  • 1 count of negligent discharge of a firearm
  • 1 count of shooting at an occupied car

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