LAPD SWAT Officer Caught on Video Saying 'Happy Hunting' Before Fatal Shooting Gets 2-Day Suspension

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A Los Angeles police SWAT officer who was caught on body-camera video telling his colleagues "happy hunting" before a fatal police shooting last May has received a two-day suspension following an internal investigation, according to LAPD disciplinary records.

The newly released records identify the officer by his rank — police officer III — but don't name him, due to state privacy laws.

Remark Made Before Fatal Shooting of Armed, Barricaded Suspect

LAPD cop
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The officer's remark was made while preparing with other SWAT officers to surround a man named Leron James, who was armed with a handgun and had barricaded himself in a downtown L.A. apartment building. Police say James, 54, fired down on officers from a window and the officers returned fire, killing him.

An LAPD Metropolitan Division commanding officer was reviewing body-worn camera footage from the incident when he discovered an officer, who did not fire at James, telling other officers "happy hunting" before the shots rang out.

According to the Los Angeles Times, a person with knowledge of the incident told the outlet that the two officers who opened fire on James were among the group gathered at the time the remark was made.

Officer was Under Investigation for Misconduct

Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore said at the time that the remark "constitutes an inappropriate comment or inappropriate remark, which is an administrative count of misconduct."

Moore said the comment was made in the initial stages of the SWAT team responding to the scene, while officers were in the back end of a rescue vehicle.

Moore told the commission Tuesday the officer was immediately removed from the field after the remark was discovered, and police initiated a misconduct investigation.

2-Day Suspension a 'Slap on the Wrist,' Says BLM Activist

Greg "Baba" Akili, an organizer with Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, said that the two-day suspension was, at best, a slap on the wrist that sends the message that the department isn't serious about holding officers accountable.

"We're not seeking just to punish people, we're seeking real accountability, because by having real accountability we can prevent this from happening," he said Saturday.

This article was first published on February 6, 2023