Suspected drug dealer is killed by L.A. County sheriff’s deputy in Lennox

The suspect was in his car when deputies approached, apparently startling him and prompting him to reach under his seat. A deputy fatally shot him in the upper torso. No drugs or weapons were found.
By Ari B. Bloomekatz and Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
July 25, 2008
An unarmed man was shot and killed by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy who believed the suspected drug dealer was reaching for a weapon, authorities said.

Two deputies were patrolling in the 11000 block of Dalerose Avenue in Lennox about 11:40 p.m. Wednesday when they saw the man sitting in his car, said Steve Whitmore, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Department.

They approached the vehicle and the suspect was “physically startled, agitated and reached under his seat,” Whitmore said.

One of the deputies, “fearing for his safety, fired his weapon, hitting the suspect in the upper torso.”

Christian Portillo, 35, was pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said.

No weapons or drugs were recovered from the vehicle, he said.

The victim’s father said his son had done nothing wrong and that he watched in horror after the officer shot him in the family’s driveway.

“He was holding the door open with his left hand and the gun with his right,” Josue Portillo, 61, said of the deputy. Portillo said he had been reading inside the one-story house when he heard gunfire and rushed outside.

My son “was just sitting in the car,” he said.

Los Angeles County public records show that Portillo had three convictions. Five years ago he was convicted of driving with a suspended license, and more than 15 years ago he was convicted on charges of vandalism and bringing drugs into a prison or jail.

The family has not yet retained an attorney, but Portillo said, “I have to do something so they can’t do this to the community again.”

Portillo’s brother, Leonidas Arthur Portillo, 37, said: “I just don’t understand. He’s in his driveway, he’s at home.

“He doesn’t carry any guns. In fact, he would be the type of person to defuse the situation.”

Authorities said the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, the Office of Independent Review and the Sheriff’s Department were investigating the shooting.

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