Omar Emilio Benitez, 22

Long Beach, California
May 15, 2017

Agencies: South Gate Police Department California | Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department California LASD

Cause of death: Shooting

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Last updated: almost 6 years ago


A man was fatally shot by police on live TV after a pursuit through South L.A. on Monday afternoon.

The man, along with a woman, had abandoned a white van after leading South Gate police on a chase on the 710 and 91 freeways and nearby surface streets, at times driving into oncoming traffic. The chase and its violent aftermath were observed by a KTLA news helicopter and broadcast live.

The van was stolen, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which is investigating the shooting.

South Gate police officers initially tried to conduct a traffic stop of the van at 12:36 p.m., but the driver refused to stop and led officers on a pursuit, the sheriff’s department said in a statement.


During the chase, the van slowed down long enough for one passenger, a 23-year-old man, to exit the vehicle and surrender to officers, authorities said. He was taken into custody without incident.

The chase ended when the man behind the wheel drove the van onto a road that dead-ended at railroad tracks protected by a chain-link fence next to the 91 Freeway in Long Beach.

He and a female passenger, who dropped two large bags on a dirt embankment at the fence line, hopped the barrier and ran along the tracks and under a freeway overpass, the KTLA broadcast showed.

At least two officers were in close pursuit and jumped the fence and ran after them.


After the apparent driver emerged from beneath the overpass, the KTLA camera zoomed in as he rummaged through a backpack he was cradling with his left arm. The man also put on a glove, according to the sheriff’s department.

He dropped a black object onto the gravel and then, moments later, pulled out an object and pointed it at pursuing officers.

No gunfire was heard, but the suspect fell to the ground. He got back up as an officer ran into the camera’s field of view and took a shooting stance. The suspect fell again as two more officers ran into view with weapons pointed at him.

According to the sheriff’s department, one police officer shot the suspect, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

No firearm was found, according to the sheriff’s department.

The female passenger was found hiding in a nearby warehouse and was taken into custody without incident, authorities said.

South Gate police did not immediately return a request for comment.