California police face scrutiny after killing double amputee

LOS ANGELES — The death of a double amputee wielding a large knife whom police shot in Huntington Park, California, has sparked a national outcry against the use of force against a disabled person.

Police say Anthony Lowe, a Black man who lost both his legs last year and had not yet received prosthetics, stabbed a person last Thursday before they used a stun gun and shot him about 10 times throughout his upper body.

Lowe’s family questioned why it was necessary to kill a man who needed a wheelchair to get around.

“I want to achieve truth and justice, because if anybody else would have shot Anthony, with him being a disabled person, they would be in jail now for murder,” said Ebonique Simon, the mother of Lowe’s 15-year-old son. “They wouldn’t be out taking leave with pay.”

Lt. Hugo Reynaga of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s homicide unit, which typically investigates officer shootings involving Huntington Park police, said the stabbing victim was a 46-year-old man who is stable in a hospital, awaiting surgery. Huntington Park police are preparing a report on the incident, Reynaga said Wednesday. 

Huntington Park police declined to comment on Lowe’s death or say what happened before the encounter because the shooting is under investigation.

The officers involved in Lowe’s death, who have not been publicly identified, have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, Huntington Park police said in a statement. 

Lowe’s relatives said they have been given inconsistent information since they learned of his death. Police told the family they had assumed Lowe was homeless, but he had been living with his mother after having lost both legs, the family said. They were also told Lowe charged at police with a knife, but a witness’ statement did not appear to support that, Simon said.

 “The whole world has seen that video now, and that’s not what happened,” she said. “I don’t even want my son to pick up his phone. I don’t want him to see the videos.”

Grainy cellphone video shared on Twitter shows Lowe, whose legs were amputated at the knees, leaving the wheelchair behind and scrambling along the sidewalk, followed by officers with their guns drawn. The shooting is not seen in the video, which does not show what led to the encounter.

Huntington Park police said in a statement that officers responded to a report of a stabbing victim on the afternoon of Jan. 26. The victim, who had sustained a collapsed lung and internal bleeding, said he was attacked by a Black man in a wheelchair, police said. 

“The suspect dismounted his wheelchair, ran to the victim without provocation, and stabbed him in the side of the chest with a 12” butcher knife,” police said in the statement. “The suspect then ran back to the wheelchair and fled the scene in the wheelchair.”

Officers later found Lowe nearby carrying a large knife and ignoring their commands, the statement said. He “threatened to advance or throw the knife” at police, who deployed two Tasers in an attempt to subdue him, the statement said. When that didn’t work, Lowe was shot and died on the sidewalk, it said.

His family was not notified until the next morning, relatives said, even though Lowe was carrying identification with his mother’s address.

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