“How threatening can I be toward them with a bottle of water and a towel?” DeLeon said.
Whatever the action was, the officer responded and exited the vehicle. He ordered DeLeon to drop his gun, but DeLeon did not have a gun.
“He was nowhere near these cops. He was not doing anything provocative,” DeLeon’s lawyer Mark Geragos said.
Both sides say they have supporting witnesses, but neither side has a complete picture. For the LAPD and the inspector general, there are three months of investigation ahead.
In the middle of it all is DeLeon, the rare survivor of an officer-involved shooting. His family said he remembers very little of the incident.
“And then during that time, I needed help and I was going to ask the police something and I had the towel to dry my forehead,” he said.
But one of the questions is why did DeLeon need help? Could his signals have appeared as aggression? The only thing he remembers is that he had the towel close to a water bottle he had.
DeLeon believes more officer training could have spared him from brain damage. The former handyman lost one eye and his hearing in one ear is gone. At the family apartment, it’s a struggle for his mother and sister to take care of him.
“He can’t go to the restroom by himself. He can’t feed himself. He can’t dress himself,” his sister Yovanna DeLeon said.
To add to their struggle, they are now facing eviction.