1 Killed, 3 Injured at 939 Palm, Site of March Stabbing Death

Shooting at 939 N. Palm Ave. (Photo Jon Viscott)
Injured man being removed from 939 N. Palm Ave. (Photo Jon Viscott)

A 30-year-old man was shot to death by a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputy responding to a knife fight last night that sent three others to the hospital.  The incident occurred at around 9:30 p.m  in an apartment at the Palm Villas apartment building at 939 Palm Ave. in West Hollywood. The name of the dead man hasn’t been released.

The Sheriff’s Department said that as deputies approached the apartment two men were exiting it and were aggressive with the deputies. One of them was shot and killed. Inside the apartment, the deputies discovered two men fighting, with one choking the other. A large knife was found nearby and apparently someone had been stabbed.

The gunfire and police cars startled nearby residents, who only two weeks ago had been stunned by the stabbing death in the same building of Kurland Ma, 34, a doctor who had recently move to West Hollywood. His boyfriend, Andres Davids, 36, was charged with his murder. He is being held in lieu of $1 million bail..

The 44-unit apartment building is located between Cynthia and Harratt streets, just north of Santa Monica Boulevard.

  1. OK let me first say that we certainly need to hear all the details of this incident, and that is certainly underway. The city absolutely is taking this very seriously and wants to get to the bottom of what happened. I think everyone agrees that this is a terrible tragedy, now that we know the person killed was a victim.

    My comments come from the perspective of a former volunteer with the Sheriff’s Department in WeHo and that experience made me very grateful that we have the LASD in WeHo and not LAPD. I feel that in general, we are very well served by these deputies.

    That being said, nobody and no organization is perfect. When the deputy shot up the liquor store a few years ago, that seemed far less than perfect (yes that’s an understatement) and I’d be surprised if that deputy is still in law enforcement. I am confident that nobody in that department is taking this current situation lightly, and as the acting sheriff said in the press conference, nobody in the department is going to take this harder than the deputies involved. KTLA put it well in their report saying that “every officer’s worst nightmare” is the possibility of taking an innocent life. That outcome is unfortunately going to happen at times, and I can’t imagine what it must be like for the officers to live with that.

    On this situation, from the info released, I can imagine how this tragedy might have been close to unavoidable. BUT WE SHALL FIND OUT in the investigation. As I was saying in earlier comments, try to put yourself in the position of responding deputies, entering a building and going around corners and such. You see this on crime shows on TV where they are peeking around corners and covering each other. Imagine yourself thinking you are about to walk into a situation where YOU could lose your life, coming face to face with an armed suspect. And then events lead to bloody, frantic individuals bursting out the door you’re covering, coming toward you.

    This is the description we’ve been told and it does sound entirely plausible.

    This is about the worst, most dangerous situation that could occur for everyone involved. When any law enforcement officer is hopped up on adrenaline, aiming a gun in close range, with a finger on a trigger…. the worst thing you could possibly do is surprise the officers and rush towards them. Sadly, these victims were also frantically trying to get away from a maniac, so that is exactly what they are said to have done. Worse yet, it sounds like LASD is saying the deputies may have thought that the individual killed was trying to kill the guy ahead of him.

    All of this was said to happen in split seconds because of the close proximity of the victims to the deputies. This was a terribly difficult situation, from what we’ve heard of the details. All law enforcement officers go through a lot of training for exactly this type of situation with simulators and such. Did they perform perfectly according to their training? Could they have known? Could this have been avoided? I don’t know. The investigation will tell us more. The explanation we’ve heard so far sounds entirely plausible and completely tragic, and we will find out more from the investigation.

    But I do think it is unfair to pre-judge the deputies involved, or call the WeHo operations of the Sheriff a “lackluster police force.”

  2. why do people keep saying that the cops had to shoot the victim because he was running towards them with a knife in hand?

    HE DID NOT HAVE A KNIFE! he was just trying to gtfo

    go back and read the story

  3. Sorry for double-posting my diatribe but SOMEONE needs to speak up for the countless people that have been gunned down by careless cops, innocent and guilty. Our police are not criminals, kids, druggies or gangsters, at least they shouldn’t be. Therefore need to be held up to a VERY high standard.

    It is tragic enough to see this in other communities but I can’t sit by while this is happening a STREET next to me.

  4. i think many an innocent man would act in the manner i did and would take offense for the sloppy work of a lack luster police force..they seemed so worked up..like children playing cops and robbers…they allowed me to enter a building where a man had a knife and a gun…than they attack me and accuse me of being a suspect…sounds like a serious lack of training and forethought,,,and maybe just maybe just maybe the department needs to train officers better…I ask the question why did they officer I spoke to in front of my building allow me to enter a dangerous building? so….wehodaily!!! until you live it you don’t know it..namaste…

  5. Thank you for those brave enough to let us know how the police treated you during this tragic incident. I am well aware of the dangers that police officers face but the use of lethal force should only occur when there is absolutely NO other option. Sadly, our police in America do not fully appreciate the fact that respect, decency and safety are #1 when it comes to public safety.

    I hope the City and the County release an honest assessment of what led up to the fatal shooting. From the reports I’ve seen the shooting seems like excessive force. Sadly in the news today there was a large mass stabbing in PA yet the child was taken in alive. We do not need trigger happy cops roaming the streets in WeHo like they are in Los Angeles. Need I remind anyone that is was only a year ago that we had cops shooting up cars indiscriminately during a manhunt. There should be ZERO tolerance for cops that think our streets are the wild wild west.

    As for the residents that were terrorized by the police during this incident, that is also outrageous. I understand that in a situation like this police want to put on a “show” but we pay these people handsomely to treat ALL residents with respect. Sadly, most people who are terrorized by the police are too afraid to speak up for fear of retaliation.

    It is time WeHo stood up for peace and not the same sort of blood lust that caused these drug addicts to cause so much pain in this apartment building. Other countries such as the UK and Japan can deal with dangerous situations without guns drawn and safety off (most don’t even carry firearms!). Yet in America and Costa Rica for example we have military men posing as “public safety” officers and our streets are far more dangerous.

    I’m sure some of these posters scoffing at the notion we actually scrutinize police violence are waiting for the day we can just send in domestic drones to launch a few missiles at anyone “of interest” to be EXTRA safe…

  6. I hope there is an investigation into this shooting. I am sure the people defending trigger happy cops would also be happy to send a drone to the apartment to launch a few missiles at anyone who may look like a person of interest.

    We have a serious problem in America with the police using excessive force and I would hope West Hollywood would be immune to this. Thanks to those that were brave enough to share their thoughts on the police’s response. We pay these individuals royally and should be treated with utmost respect and care with the goal of public safety, not with crassness and belligerence because they may be “stressed” from the situation.

    Of course I understand that there are rare occasions when lethal force is needed but nothing from the reports I’ve seen point to that as a logical or necessary action. Thankfully the culprit didn’t kill anyone but it is a shame that those that are paid to protect the citizens were the murderers at the end of the day. It perpetuates the violence and blood lust that is at the root of the violence on Palm. Hopefully the City and County release an honest assessment of what led up to the shooting for the people to scrutinize.

    West Hollywood needs to make sure our police are properly trained to handle deadly and stressful situation without adding to the chaos. Do we need to relive a situation here in West Hollywood similar to what happened last year when cops shot indiscriminately at “suspicious” vehicles because they were “stressed” from looking for a suspect? Other countries in the world are doing a fine job without militarizing their police force such as Japan or the UK. Yet, countries awash in guns like America or Costa Rica don’t seem to be safe havens to the masses.

  7. I know everyone involved personally, The gentleman killed by police was a victim, running for his life away from the apartment where his mentally unstable roommate was attacking them with a knife. Another victim was also running for his life and was shot in the leg by police. They were RUNNING to escape from a madman, not being aggressive with police. Unnecessary death at the hands of police…tragic.

  8. Hey Wesley, we watched the entrie time from the beginning from across the street, including the food deliver guy the sheriff let inside the building after the ambulances arrived. The deliver guy came back out followed by the second guy on a stretcher. Go figure!? A girl drove up leaving her car in the middle if the street and they let her in as well. Also curious why the body of the man who was killed was taken out on a stretched covered, put into an ambulance and not taken by the coroner. It was obvious this person was deceased. Ambulance did not use a siren either. Lastly, this is the second time in 10 days were Palm has been taped off in the middle if the block leaving cars able to cross or turn from Cybthia. Could not count the endless car trying to make uturns while recuse vehicles are trying to get in/out. Wouldn’t it make sense for one of the sheriffs to block from the corner if Cynthia?!

  9. To Larry: I’m sorry your employee had to go through that. I’m sure it was traumatic. But keep in mind that the deputies were intensely focused on split second life or death decisions, and as we now know, one deputy felt they had no other option than to shoot and that man died. Unfortunately, the last thing they could worry about during the first part of the encounter is helping your employee understand what was going on. They were hyper focused on taking in the situation and looking for threats to their own lives or the lives of others, and preparing themselves for the possibility of taking the life of another human being. In fact, your employee speaking was probably a distraction which might be why they crudely told them to shut up. They were almost certainly looking for other threats as it sounds like they quickly took control of your employee and removed them from the situation… as such nothing they had to say would have been helpful at that moment because they were focused on larger concerns. They obviously knew they could listen to your employee for some info on what was going on but there must have been something else more important at the moment. At the end of the encounter, they were probably shaken up from the shooting with adrenaline pumping and I hope your employee can understand that in this state of mind they might not have uncuffed them as promptly as they might otherwise have.

    1. @wehodaily he knows, we all know, that the cops were doing their jobs.. and posting above does not reflect any hurt feelings or distract from the excellent job the officers of the peace due every single day.. part of me just wishes that another person didnt have to die and that life in our little burg could be peace and all this stuff is behind us…

  10. Two fatal incidents at the same address – possibly both related to drug-issues – is a pretty good reason to put a building on lock down for a few hours after the second death. Not sure if there are code issues the city could get involved in, but I suspect they will look into this. Meantime, residents on the street should organize a community meeting. The city – with relevant officials, representatives from the Sheriff’s Dept, and some council members – would likely attend and listen to the neighbors. The problem is the street (and Larabee) have a very transient population, which sometimes means getting people interested in long-term solutions more difficult. But this is clearly a big deal, and attention must be paid.
    I live a little distance away (adjacent, not immediate, neighborhood), but this is enough of a problem that it does deserve city wide attention.

  11. “The City and the Barney Fife police force are doing nothing to stop drug use and sales in West Hollywood.” Pfft. WeHo is not going to do anything real to make the activities of daily living easier for the citizens of WeHo, like installing street lamps near dark meth dens, requiring landlords to provide parking or parking passes for tenants, designating meters for residents only, requiring landlords to upgrade dated apartments with insulation and air conditioning, opening up city parking garages for holiday travelers, or implementing a process by which car owners are contacted before their cars are towed.

    They’re too busy trying to generate revenue for their six figure salaries and their robotic parking garages by raising meter hours till midnight so that WeHo residents coming home from work have even less places to park, hiring more and more meter maids to ticket you at 9:01 as soon as street cleaning restrictions begin, costing residents hundreds of dollars by throwing up “No Parking Here” signs for entire days so they’ll have a reason to tow, and finding new ways to milk residents and visitors like pretending that curbing tires is a big issue. When they’re not passing fur bans and bag bans or attending “Best Go-go Boy” award shows.

    The one real and creative idea to help residents — the WeHo trolley — was generated by two young local residents, Lucas John and Tristan Schildkraut. Hopefully, WeHo voters will help elect people who actually are concerned about the residents, like Lucas and Tristan, instead of WeHo’s career politicians who are only concerned about their own pocketbooks.

  12. It’s too easy to second guess the Sheriffs deputies from the tranquility of a computer chair. It seems pretty clear to me they responded appropriately, according to the reports. We want and need armed officers to respond in cases like this.
    Yes, this sounds like drug related behavior. So much violence in that apartment building. Why would anyone else stay after 2 deaths and so much mayhem? I predict a mass exitus.

  13. At work this morning —-my employee who lives in the building unit 313.. the incident was on the 2nd floor.. he walked out of his unit to see what was going on.. the cops assumed he was the suspect, told him to put his hands up which he did, then the cops rushed him and turned him around, put his arm behind his back, cuffed him.. all the time he was saying, he lives in the building.. but they proceeded to take him out of the building in cuffs. They took him down to the victims for identification. The victim quickly said he was not the person.. then they escorted him back upstairs, STILL IN CUFFS and then finally removed the cuffs at his front door.

    The police must put public safety first.. but some of the hysteria could have been avoided.
    Matt too was scared and upset and they manhandled him without even informing what was going on…. even while he tried to say he was not the person they are looking for he was told to SHUT THE F*** UP. I think the police have to realize that there are tenants in the building as well as suspects.. and react accordingly. Matt was detained and cuffed in a tee shirt and shorts with no gun or knife on him.. his hands in the air…and after he was cleared as a suspect they left the cuffs on him until he was back at his front door.

    But..all in all.. the police have a job to do.. Public Safety is Job 1.. but I think some aspects of this could have been handled better.

  14. I love love this website and what it attracts.
    complaints about excessive force, without any knowledge about what occurred, and another whiner about the lack of concierge service to explain the situation and offer emotional comfort.
    who knows what happened but at least let the dust settle before the bitch-fest.
    there are residents who really have no idea how good we have it here in west hollywood.
    but, as I’ve stated, wait another 10-15 years, and you folk won’t recognize this town.

  15. As the one non-police person who was present outside at the time of the shooting, I can tell you that I was less than impressed. I live in the building and due to the police cars in the street had to park on Cynthia and walk back. As I got to the driveway I heard very loud shouting and then when walking to the door the gunshots rang out. The deputies yelled to get down which I had already done and made my way to the sidewalk where I crouched along the retaining wall. After a while one deputy told me to get away and move up the street. Later I inquired twice about being able to get into my apartment and was told I could not. At no time did any deputy assist me or even be nice to me. When I asked one about access he kept saying he apologized for my inconvenience. I told him I wasn’t inconvenienced, just wanting to know when I could go home. Finally at about 11p one told me the building would be locked down for 5-6 hours with no access so I went to a friend’s house to spend the night.

    At 7a this morning I called the Sheriff’s station to see if I could go home. I told the person who answered the phone where I lived. As I was beginning to ask him about the situation he interrupted and in a brusque tone said: “So what’s your question?” I asked if I could get in. After checking he came back said they had no information and that I would have to go to the building and ask. Really? They had no information? How can this be?

    Frankly, I would have expected better from the Sheriff’s department. With all the personnel they had available couldn’t one of them come over to me and made sure I was OK and maybe later even helped me get into the building to my apartment. I was pretty shaken by this. I’ve never experienced violent gunfire before; hopefully most of us have not. Since this is the 2nd incident in this building in 10 days maybe I should get used to it.

  16. Martial arts experts have proven that an assailant armed with a knife can be on you faster than most people can react. Officers are trained in the escalation of force – someone comes at you with a knife, the escalation is to go to your sidearm. Most rational people will drop the knife once confronted by an armed officer, when they don’t and they move toward the officer with that knife…. well they get shot. Until you walk a mile in their shoes, don’t be so quick to say what should have been done!

  17. Both 90069 and wehodaily raise good points, but no one here can yet make a judgment about this shooting. I’ve lived in WeHo long enough to know that the Sheriff’s Dept here, unlike other police depts near and further away, don’t have a reputation for being triggerhappy. I assume there will be a full investigation, the deputy involved will be put on paid leave (normal procedure) and the family of the deceased will have the option to pursue legal action if they feel this was inappropriate,
    Me, I’m not going to make a kneejerk judgment.

  18. If Sheriffs were detaining at gunpoint, then there was likely no time to switch to a taser. They don’t approach scenes where a deadly weapon is reported with bean bags or tasers drawn. Would you? They must always be prepared for the worst as a situation can change in an instant. Also, they can’t entirely rely upon fragmented and often incorrect info via 911 calls and other witnesses.

    If they are 50 or 100 feet away from a suspect, there might be time to asses the situation and pull out a taser. But in this case, it sounds like they were entering a building and going down corridors and there is really no safe way for law enforcement to do this at all… And a gun drawn is their only protection.

  19. No reason that the police should be shooting someone only armed with a knife. There are plenty of ways to subdue a person with non-lethal force.

  20. Last night was on the phone w a friend who lives next door to 939– he said he heard gunshots– I thought he was crazy…. Couple minutes later the cops are on the horn stay inside your homes… Very unsettling that once again we have to hear this kind of news in our city. Public Safety is Job 1. What happened to taser guns – not sure shoot to kill was necessary..

    Also, I’m pretty sure there was a Palm Ave lighting project that was approved last year but has yet to be installed. The street is so dark at night that it’s still dangerous and a potential hazard.

  21. I used to live on Palm, accross the street from that building. Everyone knows its a drug den. I moved because of the drug activity. West Hollywood has seen the highest meth use at the fastest rate in the country. The City and the Barney Fife police force are doing nothing to stop drug use and sales in West Hollywood.

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