Los Angeles, CA – Los Angeles police have released harrowing videos that captured the moment a convicted felon opened fire on two officers during a traffic stop (video below).
The incident occurred at approximately 10:15 p.m. in the North Hills neighborhood.
Officers conducted an “investigative stop” on a vehicle being driven by 32-year-old Richard Mendoza, police said in a video release.
Los Angeles Police Department Force Investigation Group Commander Alan Hamilton said that one of the officers recognized Mendoza from a previous incident.
Mendoza, a member of the Vincent Town gang who went by the moniker of “Biz,” had previously been convicted of narcotics sales and possession of a firearm by a felon, police said.
Dashcam and bodycam footage from both officers showed them as they approached Mendoza’s vehicle on opposite sides and carried on a brief, but cordial conversation with him.
A male officer, who was standing outside Mendoza’s passenger window, instructed him to shut off his vehicle, while a female officer on the driver’s side greeted him and inquired about his federal probation status.
“Nine more months, and I discharge,” Mendoza replied.
“Okay, I’m going to have you step out of the vehicle,” the female officer told him. “You don’t have anything on you, right?”
Mendoza held up a blue bandana and a cell phone, then dropped them onto his passenger seat.
He kept his hands raised as the female officer opened his door.
“You’re good,” she told him.
But as he stepped out of the vehicle with his left foot, Mendoza swiftly drew a gun from his waistband with his right hand – a split-second movement that could only be seen from the perspective of the male officer’s bodycam.
By the time Mendoza’s right foot hit the ground, he was firing a round at the female officer, dashcam footage showed.
She fell backwards onto the ground as Mendoza immediately pivoted and fired at the second officer over the roof of his car.
The male officer returned fire, dropping Mendoza to the ground in a crumpled heap.
“Officers need help! Shots fired,” he radioed, as he covered the gunman and rushed to the aid of his partner. “Where’d you get hit?”
“In my left leg,” she replied. “Oh my god – it’s burning….Just get him!”
After calling an ambulance for his partner, the male officer moved towards Mendoza and placed his blood-soaked arms into handcuffs.
“F–k you,” the officer muttered, before he rushed back to his injured partner.
Investigators later recovered a .380 caliber handgun near Mendoza’s body, the department said in a news release.
The female officer and Mendoza were transported to a local hospital for treatment of their gunshot wounds.
Mendoza was hit multiple times in the head and torso, and was later pronounced dead.
The officer’s wound was not life-threatening, the department said in a news release.
The incident remains under investigation, and could take up to a year to complete, Officer Rubenstein explained.
The findings of the investigation will also be reviewed by the chief of police, the Board of Police Commissioners, and the Office of the Inspector General in order to determine whether the officer was justified in using deadly force against Mendoza, Officer Rubenstein added.
You can watch bodycam and dashcam footage of the shootout in the video below: