The family of the late Oscar Leon Sanchez said that officers entered the 35-year-old man’s home and shot him dead while he stood in his living room, purportedly holding a metallic scooter component.
A recently-filed lawsuit claims that Los Angeles Police Department officers used deadly force against a Southern California man in the midst of a severe mental health crisis.
According to The Los Angeles Times, the family of the late Oscar Leon Sanchez says that the 35-year-old man did not understand what was happening when officers came into his home on January 3, 2023.
Nevertheless, within minutes of their arrival, Los Angeles Police Department officers had opened fire, killing Leon Sanchez inside his own living room.
“No les voy a dejar que me roben,” Leon Sanchez said in Spanish, which translates to, “I am not going to allow you to rob me.”
The lawsuit names L.A.P.D. officers Diego Bracamontes and Christopher Guerrero as defendants, alongside the City of Los Angeles.
“Oscar Leon Sanchez needed mental health support. However, despite no one being injured, no ongoing emergency, and no need for law enforcement, Los Angeles Police Department officers shot and killed Oscar Leon Sanchez in his home,” the family said in their lawsuit, which was first filed earlier this year.
Shortly after the shooting, police officials said that officers were responding to reports of an assault with a deadly weapon.
When they arrived outside of Leon Sanchez’s home, they encountered the 35-year-old man, who was wielding a “sharp metal object about a foot in length.”
The officers repeatedly ordered Leon Sanchez to drop the object.
Leon Sanchez did not comply with the officers’ orders, and they opened fire on him after he took a step toward their position.
However, the man’s family say that the object Leon Sanchez was holding was a scooter component—not a weapon or other obviously dangerous object.
“When you look at the video, it’s clear he doesn’t know what’s going on,” said Isidro Leon Sanchez, the victim’s brother. “He was having an episode.”
NBC News notes that Oscar Leon Sanchez had suffered from chronic anxiety and had also been diagnosed with major depressive disorder.
According to his brother, Leon Sanchez’s mental health condition had deteriorated since the death of their mother.
While Leon Sanchez was prescribed medication to manage his depressive state, Isidro Leon Sanchez said he did not believe that his brother could manage his mental health needs independently and that he may not have been taking his medication as prescribed.
The Los Angeles Times reports that officers believe Leon Sanchez had assaulted someone near his home several hours before the fatal shooting, but had returned inside his home by the time that law enforcement arrived on-site.
Leon Sanchez spoke with officers from his balcony for about 10 minutes.
However, when Leon Sanchez did not appear outside the house, officers allegedly grew impatient and entered the home through an unsecured back door.
When officers located Leon Sanchez, the man was standing inside his living room.
The defendant officers, attorneys for Leon Sanchez’s family say, shot him within 5 seconds of entering the home. He was not issued any verbal warning, and officers only addressed him in English, despite being told that Leon Sanchez could only communicate in Spanish.
Leon Sanchez was taken to a hospital for treatment but later died from his injuries.