A jury on Friday, November 19 acquitted a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy of voluntary manslaughter for the fatal, on-duty shooting of a man at the Norwalk gas station nearly six years ago.
The Los Angeles Superior Court panel filed the case against Luke Liu on Thursday afternoon and delivered its ruling on Friday afternoon.
Deputy District Attorney Chris Baker told jurors in his closing argument that Liu “made one tragically bad decision after another and chased and killed a non-violent, unarmed man” and shot him in the back.
But defense attorney Michael D. Schwartz said the prosecution’s story “could not fit the circumstantial evidence” and urged the panel to acquit his client.
Liu, now 42, was charged with the February 24, 2016 shooting of Francisco Garcia outside 7-Eleven at 10962 Alondra Blvd., the first prosecution of its type in the county in nearly two decades at the time.
Garcia, 26, stopped at a gas pump, with the deputy who was checking vehicle license plates, later pulling up behind the white 1993 Acura Integra that was reported to have been stolen.
The 26-year-old man tried to drive at about 5 mph by officers was hit by four of the seven shots fired by Liu — two in the lower back and one each in the shoulder area and knee. Was involved – and crashed into a signal at the station.
After the shooting, Liu pulled the man out of the vehicle and performed CPR on him before paramedics arrived. Garcia died in the hospital.
The prosecutor called the shooting “inappropriate,” “unnecessary” and “illegal,” telling jurors that Garcia moved so slowly that the deputy was able to walk along and “repeated fire” and that Garcia had no one to go to. There was no space but in the congested traffic that was blocking the driveway.
The deputy’s lawyer told jurors that his client was not intentionally disregarding human life, but was “protecting himself” and “acting to prevent a threat.”
Schwartz stated in his closing argument that Liu believed that the man might have been reaching for a weapon and felt that the vehicle was making contact with or hitting him.
Defense counsel told jurors that the onus was on the prosecution to prove that the shooting was not done in “lawful self-defense.”
Soon after the shooting, sheriff’s officers said the deputy was in danger for his life. He then said that the deputy suffered minor injuries after being hit by the vehicle.
After a doctor examining Liu after being taken to Long Beach Memorial Medical Center noticed that there were no bruises or bruises, Baker told jurors that the trial was underway on November 3.
Liu, a more than 10-year veteran who was appointed to the Cerritos sheriff’s station, was placed on administrative leave in December 2018. His current position with the department was unclear.
Los Angeles County agreed to pay Garcia’s family $1.75 million in 2018 to settle a wrongful death lawsuit.