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L.A. County Deputies Mistakenly Shoot, Kill Hostage

April 11, 2014  | 

Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies mistakenly shot two hostages, killing one, earlier this week as the men fled a knife-wielding captor in West Hollywood, officials said Thursday, reports the L.A. Times.

John Winkler, a 30-year-old TV production assistant who had recently arrived from Washington state to pursue a career in entertainment, was hit once in the chest when three deputies opened fire on him Monday night at an apartment complex, officials said in a statement.

"The apartment door suddenly opened and a male victim came rushing out," the statement said. "He was covered in blood and bleeding profusely from the neck. Simultaneously, Winkler ran out of the door, lunging at the back of the fleeing victim. Both ran directly at the deputies."

Winkler fit the general description of the suspect — a white man in a black shirt — and when he bolted out of the apartment, deputies believed Winkler was the assailant, officials said.

Comments (42)

Displaying 1 - 42 of 42

westcoastleo @ 4/11/2014 3:45 PM

Split second decision... Sad shame it happened... Aint the first time this has happened and won't be the last...

LASD Active
35 years...

LASD DEP @ 4/11/2014 4:38 PM

Keep your heads up guys. There are, and will be a lot of second guessers talking nonsense. These unfortunate events will happen.

NoMoreDumbCops @ 4/11/2014 4:49 PM

I am more scared of cops then street thugs. If I killed someone by accident, I go straight to prison. If a cop killed someone by accident, they go back to street patrol in a few months. Did the dumb cop see the guy carry a knife?An innocent man trying to flee from a guy trying to kill him with a knife, ends up being killed by the same people that are supposed to help him. Having a gun and a badge does not put you above the law. If I tried to escape from a burning building, the cops might shoot me. Cops like to shoot first and asked questions later.

carosis @ 4/11/2014 5:03 PM

Things like this should never happen, I can only imagine what the poor hostage felt as the Hero's who was supposed to help, protect, & save him only foolishly shot & killed him. No Excuses Period All Officers Involved Should Be Prosecuted

KevCopAz @ 4/11/2014 5:05 PM

NoMoreDumbCops: You are obviously not a cop! You can arm chair quarterback while someone else with balls does the Cop job while you hide behind a computer. You have NO IDEA how it is, how quickly one has to react, you are an obvious cop hater with zero brains, zero experience and should change you name to dumb citizen, if you even are a citizen. I would lay odds that you have never been in the military or any police agency. What would YOU have done?? Stopped, took a minute to look over every possible aspect of what to do, NOT shoot and get stabbed, or freeze and shut you pants , then get stabbed. I would vote that you would do the last one since you don't have any Fing clue, just shut up.

KevCopAz @ 4/11/2014 5:08 PM

OH one more thing NomoreDumbCops: You say Cops shoot first then ask questions? If that were the case I could have shot at least 1 person a week for 32 years as could most cops, I SHOT NONE, as do most cops. You are so stupid and have so very little common sense to make such a statement. If that were true the over 200,000 Cops in the US today would kill a million people a year, think about it before you open you stupid, inexperienced mouth. Just sit at your computer and let real brave folks protect your dumb rear end, as you obviously have done all your stinking life.

Ted @ 4/11/2014 5:35 PM

Yes the thin blue line should keep up their great work, but when things go this wrong all should reflect on it and try to learn.

Dad was a cop.

BIGBLUELINE @ 4/11/2014 5:44 PM

As a cop, who has trained with some of these guys (SEB) they don’t get any better. As for NoMoreDumbCops, maybe mommy and whatever protein donor left you alone to play on the Internet, could snuggle you in and keep you out of adult conversations. Shh grown-ups are talking. LASD stay strong, nobody ever accomplished anything by wishing it went well, it went South, things often do it’s tragic but we must move on to fight another day.

Retired Chief @ 4/11/2014 6:30 PM

As a former LASD Sergeant (SEB Trained in SWAT) while I think this is a tragic incident I cannot, at least based upon media accounts, find fault with the Deputies' decision to shoot. Split second to make the call and given the hostage's similarity in description to that of the suspect coupled with the hostages' actions there wasn't much of an option.
As for the obvious non cops posting their garbage on this and other topics it would be really nice if your comments were based on even a sliver of real world experience---which they obviously are not.

Fox Trot Delta Niner @ 4/11/2014 7:04 PM

Humans make mistakes, there's Friendly Fire in the Military. Cops can screw up so can civilians and everyone else. The problem arises when an LEO takes orders from an Untrustworthy Government, that sides with Illegal Aliens, the Muslim Brotherhood etc. Look at the Bundy Ranch never Bunkerville Nevada. Senator Harry Reid will use the land for Solar Energy or Wind. More abuse of Eminent Domain, and cronyism. There are non-LEOs that agree with LEOs on different issues. There are good and bad in every demographic. People that hate COPS will always hate COPS. People that hate non-LEOs will always hate non-LEOs. Just remember the Greatest Generation that won WWII. A day not far away we will need the Next Great Generation to stop Fascism in the USA.

Mistakes are mistakes, but there not worth dying over. Freedom is worth it. But a public full of sheeple doesn't deserve what they have.

DON F. PEYTON @ 4/11/2014 8:25 PM



GP Cobb @ 4/11/2014 8:44 PM

Ditto Peyton; was not there so I'll error on voicing. I align with all the good LEO's and I am not one. Can't say about the other stupid fellow commenting. ON Nevada, I understand the bottom line is "OIL" wants to drill so they want the rancher off. Sad on both comments here........... sniffle.

Lenny @ 4/12/2014 2:01 AM

This is just another reason never to call 911. The 2 innocent victims were both shot by the police one fatally. The actual criminal responsible for all of this was apprehended while choking and tearing at the face of another victim. Why the hell didn't Cletus and Zeek shoot him? It would also be refreshing if any of you pr/cks would stop simply saying "well these things happen" and always only assuming the worst possible outcomes for yourselves. This ridiculous idea that you are always standing guard at the gates of hell 24/7 is getting so old, and the idea that you believe every member of the public is in some way trying to kill you or prevent you from going home is preposterous. The fact that(by your very own posts) you believe anyone who doesn't instantly agree with you has "zero brains" or "no idea". You rant about our posts yet even though you weren't there either you have all the excuses. It would have also been nice if one of you could have said RIP to the innocent civilian. RIP

PaulieG @ 4/12/2014 4:04 AM

As a current member of the LEO family I have to say this incident is tragic in nature, and YES I will say RIP to the victim & give my condolences to the family of the man killed and wounded as well as to the Deputies' & their families who have to live with this for the rest of their lives.. I do not find any or see any fault with the officers actions as they were merely attempting to prevent what they believed to be a crime in progress! People can second guess the situation from here to eternity and it still will not change what happened. We are faced with life and death situations on a regular basis and more often than not (much more often than not) we make the right call. I was in a situation "off duty" if there is such a thing where a man pulled out a gun and had it aimed at another individual who was sleeping with his wife- I had the moral and legal obligation to take action. I drew my personal weapon and badge and within 30 sec's disarmed the subject and everyone went home alive..

pup @ 4/12/2014 9:41 AM

Chief< You and I were both at SEB and we know what can happen. To those who don't know the whole story, it WAS NOT a Swat call out. It was patrol deputies who responded to a CF situation. When more facts can be released I'll inform you guys as LE. In regards the other A** Holes who don't have Ba**s to do our job, you're not worth my time. (Idiot Lenny)
Be safe

Capt. Crunch @ 4/12/2014 10:43 AM

@ pup, well said.

LegAdv @ 4/12/2014 12:25 PM

KevCopAz and PaulieG have made the best comments, so far. As for the comments of NoMoreDumbCops, carosis and Lenny, this matter is undoubtedly under investigation by LASD and probably, by some other agencies, as well. I intend to keep my powder dry until these investigations are concluded and we find out not only what happened, but more importantly, WHY it happened. I would suggest you do the same.

TERRY F. ZECH VAPD (RET) @ 4/12/2014 6:38 PM

You know what COPS are humans also, not robots so they do make mistakes. However that is why they train all the time. At the VA we train every month on different situations up to and include shoot or don't shoot. I bet the deputies both thought they had a victim being chased by a suspect. Let's see if any of the arm chair quarterbacks could do any better.

Lenny @ 4/13/2014 1:13 AM

@ TERRY etc..
"I bet the deputies both thought they had a victim being chased by a suspect".
If that's the case why did they also shoot the victim in the leg?
@ LegAdv
Does it really matter who will investigate, they're still cops just in different uniforms and it has already been determined that the deputies won't be charged. However the suspect(didn't actually kill anyone) will be charged with the murder commited by the police. Talk about being emboldened. I would also like it if anyone can explain why(other than the fact it makes the deputies story sound more desparate) Winkler would have been "lunging" at the other victim. The only other person who isn't a deputy that could confirm or deny that tale must have had his back to that. That's handy. Right back at you Pup.

Lenny @ 4/13/2014 1:21 AM

One other point .
It would be refreshing if just once we would hear that the police who kill innocent civilians would personally apologize to the families. Even when it's a pet. Throughout my career I have made mistakes with my customers and when I do I apologize and try to atone and make it right however and whenever possible.

mike @ 4/13/2014 10:53 AM

O'h the poor, poor cops. Over paid, under trained, scared of their own shadows, demanding higher pay every year, and as usual killing innocent people. They will just laugh it off, go back to work, demanding more pay for their professional work. WHEN are you going to do the job of serving and protecting instead of killing, harassing and intimdating the public. As these cops are PROFESSIONALS they should SUFFER the same as the victims of their INCOMPETANCE.

Capt. Crunch @ 4/13/2014 1:04 PM

Mike , you must be drinking the same cool aid as Lenny, it would be a terrible world if everybody was sentenced to death for making a honest mistake. Also you should hear/read all the facts before judging anyone. When it comes to pay the police are never overpaid because there to many in the world like you and Lenny to deal with.

Mike , sound like a guy who got his clock cleaned by a police officer for resisting arrest.

Capt. Crunch @ 4/13/2014 1:04 PM

Mike , you must be drinking the same cool aid as Lenny, it would be a terrible world if everybody was sentenced to death for making a honest mistake. Also you should hear/read all the facts before judging anyone. When it comes to pay the police are never overpaid because there to many in the world like you and Lenny to deal with.

Mike , sound like a guy who got his clock cleaned by a police officer for resisting arrest.

LegAdv @ 4/13/2014 2:32 PM

Lenny, where did you get your information that none of the deputies involved in this incident will be charged with a crime? I didn't see that information anywhere in this article or in the related L.A. Times article. And thus far, I haven't read any comments by the L.A. County District Attorney's Office, the FBI or the U.S. Attorney's Office on this matter, either way. Maybe they're doing the right thing by keeping their powder dry, as I suggested. But are you really suggesting that no law enforcement agency could investigate this incident objectively and fairly? Perhaps you could enlighten us all on how many OIS investigations you have personally handled in your career. These investigations, by their very nature, are highly complex and their results are based on information and evidence far beyond that mentioned in a couple of media articles. However, based on the information this far, the deputies' account of the incident at this point appears to be quite reasonable.

LegAdv @ 4/13/2014 2:33 PM

(cont'd) Granted, additional investigation to confirm or deny that account is still warranted and I have every reason to believe that at least one or more parallel investigations are being conducted by outside law enforcement agencies, as we speak. As for the charges against the suspect, what do you find so objectionable about the murder count? Have you ever heard of the 'Felony-Murder Rule'? Who do you think set up this entire incident in the first place? But for the suspect's actions in holding the victims hostage, assaulting them with a deadly weapon and attempting to murder them, the deputies would not have responded to this situation and as a consequence, one of the victims would not have been killed while attempting to escape. And although the information about that shooting thus far indicates that it was the result of mistaken identity, it clearly would not have happened at all, but for the conduct of the suspect. And needless to say, this result was highly foreseeable.

LegAdv @ 4/13/2014 2:34 PM

(cont'd) So the murder charge would appear to be appropriate in this case.

As for an apology to Mr. Winkler's family, you will note from the embedded video in the L.A. Times article that such an apology has already been made to them by LASD.

Ima Leprechaun @ 4/13/2014 2:37 PM


Renee @ 4/14/2014 3:17 AM

I am not a cop, nor will I sit in judgement of those who do their jobs daily to attempt to protect and serve. I know sometimes in the line of duty things happen, calls have to be made, and innocent people end up dead. The only correction I'd like to make to most of the officers that commented is this, PLEASE do not call incidents like these "mistakes"! It was a very unfortunate situation to be in. Being LEO, Deputy, Trooper, or Military is voluntary. Both my children have served this country in the Military, so I am empathetic to your jobs, and things go wrong as with any other job. If I make a keyboard error, that is mistake, if the wrong mail goes in someone else box, that is a mistake, both can be corrected. I would categorize this as an "unintentional error in judgement" on a split second call while in the line of duty. My prayers to the the families that lost loved ones, to the police and their families who must live with this and for the bad rep of good police in harms way daily.

mike @ 4/14/2014 4:46 AM

actually captain Crunch I have never been in trouble with the law, but my father, an officer's officer so they said, beat my brothers, beat me, and lets just say not very nice to my mom, --blue shirt, sgt stripes, bright shinney badge, a real credit to your occupation. And statistically all cops are family beaters. Your uniform is soiled with the blood of the innocent. You go to court stating you are the professional demanding all to attend to you yet when you murder an innocent, well, accidents happen.

Johnny Law @ 4/14/2014 7:12 AM

Prayers to all involved. A sad tragedy indeed. Not the fault of the two men who ran from the building nor the officers who shot them as they ran toward them. At night with a split second to make a decision that could mean life or death for you and your partners. To all those idiots sitting in judgment or whining because they hate LEOs, F*#K you, you POS! You are not a COP and will never understand nor do you understand our Military veterans either! You complain and condemn but are the first to call 911 when you get scared or when someone bothers you. Comments from people who are not in Law Enforcement are to be ignored since you don't know what you are talking about. Kinda like asking the kid working in McDonalds if he knows anything about open heart surgery........waste of time! Be safe Blue!

Capt. Crunch @ 4/14/2014 8:44 AM

@ Mike, sorry to hear about the bad experience you had as a child. I hope you love your family and forget about your father. I am a retired police officer and have a loving family and I have friends on the PD that also have loving families, and we do not beat our children or wives. I have had a lot of suspects who wanted to kill or do great bodily harm to me and then I cleaned their clocks. I also have had suspects that I have arrested come back to me and thank me for arresting them. There is always that 1% of bad officers that make us all look bad like your dad. You are probably a good man but because of your dad you hate police, please get over your hatred and just go by the facts. I recommend you go on a ride-along with your local police dept. You just might like it.

FLOYD @ 4/14/2014 1:10 PM

It is a very sad occurrence, My condolences to the families involved. We live on planet Earth, no human is perfect. There is little to no time to react to a situation where the choice of one's life -or theirs- is at stake.

S.S. @ 4/16/2014 7:00 AM

Yes the officer did make a mistake, and he and the family of the victim will all unfortunately have to live with it for the rest of their lives. Trust me not a day will go by that this officer or those involved will not hurt. As an officer you never want to take an innocent life, and that's the last thing you want in this difficult occupation. My prayers go out to those invovlved. Keep your heads up. Just by the posts on this particular article tells me you have plenty of support. As for the douchebag lenny...agiain. Well what can I say that that hasn't been said. lenny isn't even a citizen of the U.S. so she doesn't even count. She's lives in canada, and that shoudl tell you everything about this frightened little girl who is a complete coward.

Lenny @ 4/16/2014 10:39 PM

@ LegAdv
1 "According to NBC Los Angeles, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office announced murder charges will be brought against McDonald. The deputies involved in the shooting are not expected to be charged, though an internal investigation is pending". Dated April 11, 2014.
2 Yes I am suggesting that no law enforcement agency could investigate this incident objectively and fairly? Not until the FBI or DOJ get involved. No police force(or the ones from the next county) should EVER be allowed to investigate itself. These investigations are hightly complex because every possible scenario no matter how ridiculous will be considered and used to find some sort of alibi for the police. These cases are also stretched out over as long a time as possible in hopes that the public will have simply forgotten about them until it is determined how best to hang an air freshener on it. Thank you for "speaking" to me as a person, most of the comments I get on here are .....see above

Lenny @ 4/16/2014 10:41 PM

In the end it comes down to the ultimate get out of jail free phrase" I feared for my life and the lives of my fellow officers, and the flag, and apple pie, and Cindy Loo Hoo etc......."
3 I have heard of the Felony-Murder Rule, In my opinion it is a ridiculous law that just like most bad laws will be so overused and will be broadened to include every charge immaginable. This law (in my opinion) was written for 1 use and that is to give police further legal protection when they screw up.
4 As for the apology I said "police who kill innocent civilians should PERSONALLY apologize to the families" Some boiler plate written by an attorney and then read at a press conference by a superior is hardly a heart felt apology from the person who made the mistake. But I would be willing to bet that the officer doesn't evern feel like he made a mistake, yet 2 innocent people were shot 1 fatally. S.S and the rest of you Neanderthals Lick me

S.S. @ 4/17/2014 9:34 AM

And of course lenny the loser shows her true colors in the end of her post. Funny we never hear about this loser when there's Officers saving lives or getting the bad guy, or even killing the bad guy in a fire fight. This douche only comes out and bashes police officers during incindents like this. Your over here talking out of your ass about wanting to be fair and blah blah blah. Well be fair lenny comment on the good things these officers do. But of course you won't cause your a coward and chicken shit. lenny just go back to your mother's basement and don't come out anymore. Please just keep your sorry ass in canada where you belong.

Lenny @ 4/18/2014 1:48 PM

@ S.S.
You really are the most hateful, hate-filled arrogant little Gabron on this site. I never have to wait for the end of your posts to see your true colours. You start by insulting everyone who isn't
in lockstep with police, and your insults are personal and pre-emptive. I am starting to sense this is because you have no other mindset except police good, civilians bad. As far as being fair let me share with you and others the 1st 2 headlines I read today. "Trooper cleared after stomping on innocent man’s skull while handcuffed" & "South Carolina man faces federal charges after failing to pay $0.89 for drink refill"
1 This is what POS #1 said in his defense "I am taking care of me… I am afraid. At that moment I did not know he was handcuffed. I responded the way I was trained to respond. I reacted to what I saw. If I fail, I don’t come home to my family.” What a lying sac of sh/t, and the usual slightly different get out of jail free phrase. When he was cleared, cops cheered. USUAL

Lenny @ 4/18/2014 1:56 PM

2 "As I was filling my cup up, I turned to walk off and a fella ( the chief of A##holes) grabbed me by the arm and asked me was I going to pay for that, and I told him I wasn't aware that I had to pay for that."
"Lewis says he tried to pay the $0.89 right there, but wasn't allowed to. He says he wasn't given the chance to pay the cashier either."
"Every time I look at the ticket, it's unbelievable to me,” says Lewis, who works construction. “I can't fathom the fact that I made a $0.89 mistake that cost me $525"
LEWIS IS NOW OUT OF A JOB!. According to a hospital spokesperson, signs are posted in the cafeteria informing patrons that refills aren't free. Tell me that if it was another one of you getting the refill he wouldn't have been given a pass.
So if I seem to you to be less than fair, let's review
nothing but insults
won't even consider the non police side of any story
the fact that you guys almost always get a miss when you commit a crime even
up to killing someone. GOT IT!

LegAdv @ 4/21/2014 12:54 PM

@Lenny, your quote from the NBC article simply states that the deputies involved in the shooting "are not expected to be charged". That's a far cry from determining that they WILL NOT be charged. You seem to indicate that only the FBI or the DOJ could investigate this incident objectively and fairly, but aren't they also, "cops just in different uniforms"? And how do you know that they aren't already involved in monitoring the ongoing investigation(s)? In any event, a federal indictment in this case would not likely be pursued by the U.S. Attorney's Office unless and until evidence indicating a violation of the victims' civil rights was discovered. And in that regard, nothing in the current media reports indicate any 'wilful' or 'intentional' violation, at all; to the contrary, these reports indicate that the shooting was the result of mistaken identity accompanied by the deputies' perceptions that the assault was ongoing, that Mr. Winker fit the physical description of the

LegAdv @ 4/21/2014 12:57 PM

(cont'd) suspect and that by charging toward the deputies, he intended to attack the entry team. And contrary to your belief, OIS investigations by involved agencies and outside agencies are NOT conducted with an objective to arrive at a predetermined outcome. Your bias is a little too obvious. These investigations are highly complex because of the nature and type of evidence that is collected and evaluated in each one. Each investigation is different and some require more time and evaluation than others. I'm convinced the real source of your frustration is that you don't have access to all of the evidence in this particular case. As I'm sure you know, the media reports are not evidence of anything except maybe pre-trial publicity and offer very little information about this incident, either way. For example, there is no information about any statements made by the surviving victims; statements made by any other witnesses; the exact number of rounds fired and by whom. And by

LegAdv @ 4/21/2014 12:59 PM

(cont'd) the way, that's just for starters. As for the felony-murder rule, your "1 use" analysis completely overlooks the strong public policy behind this rule; namely, to discourage the commission of inherently dangerous felonies through penalty enhancements for deaths resulting from them. As I mentioned earlier, the suspect's actions in this incident put all of the events in motion which led to the tragic and foreseeable outcome. As for your opinion "that the officer doesn't evern feel like he made a mistake", I would submit to you that unless you ever taken a human life, you have no idea what the deputies involved in this incident are experiencing right now and are likely to experience for the rest of their lives. And finally, as for the 'personal' apology issue, I don't believe it would be wise for the deputies involved to make any statements to Mr. Winkler's family members, which could be construed as an admission of liability. I'm sure the deputies have already been

LegAdv @ 4/21/2014 1:01 PM

(cont'd) admonished in this regard and hence, the reason for the departmental response and apology. As for 'speaking to you as a person', I see no reason why I shouldn't. Just because we have some disagreements here doesn't mean you're not a human being and deserve respect, as such. I'm simply trying to get you to see the other side of this case and to resist the temptation to jump to any conclusions until all of the investigations have been completed and their results publicized. And rest assured, I'm quite familiar with cases involving wilful misconduct and civil rights violations by law enforcement officers. But based on the information I've read so far, this case isn't shaping up to be one of them.

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