LOS ANGELES (AP) — Two Los Angeles police officers acted lawfully in 2018 when they opened fire outside a Trader Joe’s supermarket during a gunfight with a suspect and fatally shot the assistant store manager, prosecutors said Tuesday.
LAPD Officers Sinlen Tse and Sarah Winans will not face criminal charges in the death of Melyda “Mely” Corado, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said in a Nov. 30 report released on Tuesday.
The suspect, Gene Evin Atkins, took employees and shoppers hostage for three hours before surrendering, authorities said. He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, court records show
“The fact that Corado was struck accidentally by Tse’s gunfire is tragic, however, it does not negate the lawfulness of the officers’ actions in using deadly force to stop a dangerous fleeing felon,” the report states.
Corado’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles and the officers, claiming they failed to follow the department’s deadly force policy when they began firing.
Atkins is charged with Corado’s killing, even though he did not shoot her, as well as the attempted killings of his grandmother and girlfriend, and other offenses. The case returns to court on Dec. 23.
John Taylor, the Corado family’s attorney, said Tuesday the DA’s decision was expected. “The family’s disappointed, but we’re not surprised,” he told The Associated Press.
The Los Angeles Police Commission ruled in June 2019 that the officers did not violate department policy in the shooting, even though they fired toward a crowded store. The LAPD did not have a comment regarding the DA’s decision on Tuesday.
Taylor alleged the city has treated the Corado family poorly as the civil lawsuit goes through court. He said city officials have acted as if Corado was a criminal “although she was an innocent bystander” when she was killed.
On July 21, 2018, Atkins had led police on a pursuit through Hollywood and Silver Lake after allegedly shooting his grandmother and girlfriend.
He crashed the car next to the Trader Joe’s in Silver Lake and then opened fire at officers, police said.
Tse and Winans returned fire, wounding Atkins and fatally shooting Corado, 27, as she ran toward the store’s entrance upon hearing the car crash. Authorities have said the officers did not see Corado and believed the area to be clear of bystanders.
Police did not know Corado had been struck by gunfire for 18 minutes, when Atkins told a negotiator that she had been hit.
The report is dated during former DA Jackie Lacey’s tenure. A spokesman for new DA George Gascón, who was sworn in Dec. 7 and has pledged to reevaluate at least four cases where Lacey declined prosecutions against police officers, declined to comment Tuesday.