A Gardena officer was cleared of any wrongdoing in the fatal June 12 shooting of 25-year-old Kenneth Ross, just one day after the young man’s family and friends demanded the release of police body cam footage from the incident. Attorneys of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office said officer Michael Robbins acted in self defense when he shot Ross at Rowley Memorial Park last spring. But the family and Ross supporters are unsatisfied with that analysis, especially, they said, since dash cam footage has been viewed by the family attorney.
“I watched four dash cam and five body cam videos of the incident,” said Haytham Faraj, an attorney representing Ross’ mother Fouzia Almarou.
Describing the footage, Faraj said, “Kenneth Ross is running south, adjacent to the parking lot of Rowley Park with his side and back to the officers. His hands are empty. He has a little backpack on his back. At about the same time an officer also pulls up in a cruiser on Van Ness. He quickly gets out of his vehicle armed with an AR-15 and locks in on the young black man who is now parallel and to his right. Ross is running south away from the officer who takes aim and fires two shots. Kenneth Ross instantly goes down. The officer then begins to yell at people in the park who are sitting in their cars, to leave. But they are witnesses to the shooting. This officer does not attempt to get their names or contact information. He just orders them to leave.”
The DA’s office released a factual analysis in May, indicating that several witnesses had seen Ross acting erratically that day and that he often acted as such around the neighborhood. According to the report, at least three witnesses said they thought Ross suffered from a mental illness and often yelled aloud to himself about conspiracies and one witness said that the young man had been on drugs for quite some time.
On April 11, 2018, the day of the incident, witnesses said they saw Ross firing shots at a business near Van Ness and El Segundo. Officers responding to the call chased Ross, who eventually landed in Rowley Park. According to the report Robbins had a clear view of Ross, who he said was “running in a strange way” and had his left hand against his waist area. As Robbins continued to chase Ross, he ordered him to “Stop or you’re going to get shot,” while pointing his weapon.
The report also indicated that Ross ignored the officer, ducking behind an electrical box before he emerged with is left arm pointed at Robbins. Robbins stated that he feared Ross would “draw down on him and shoot him,” and in fear for his life, he fired two rounds at the man. Both camps agree that Ross went down immediately.
Faraj said that officers waited at least five minutes before they attempted to render any aid to Ross.
“One officer attempts to do some compressions but you can clearly see that there is no point. The officer who shot Kenneth Ross then directs all officers to turn off their cameras. When Kenneth Ross’ body is turned over, it is clear that he is unarmed and his pockets are empty,” said Faraj.
The DA report stated that a handgun containing two rounds was removed from Ross’ body while being transported to the hospital. However, one witness, who the report indicates as “Clay C,” said he did not see anything in Ross’ hand as he fell to the ground.
Ross was pronounced dead upon arrival to the hospital.
“No one has any reason to kill anyone,” said Ross’ mother. “Not the police or anyone, and I want to know why they shot and murdered my son for nothing. He was murdered in cold blood by the Gardena Police Department.”