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Family seeks answers in death of man shot and killed by security guard at South LA Home Depot

A 30-year-old man was shot and killed by a security guard in the parking lot of a Home Depot in South Los Angeles as he was attempting to flee after an alleged assault Sunday afternoon, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Carlos Lara, 30, of Los Angeles, died in the store parking lot. According to police, the security guard allegedly attempted to detain Lara after he assaulted someone. Lara got into his car and tried to drive away before he was shot.

As a security guard, you’re here to observe and report, not to kill,” said Lara’s childhood friend Rubi Orizco.

Orizco was one of several friends and loved ones who gathered Monday at the site of the shooting. Candles, notes, flowers and other items were left at the location in memory of Lara.

“He will be missed,” she said, calling him the life of the party.

Under California law, a security guard can be armed if properly permitted to concealed carry and is performing within their job duties. They can stop crime, but not by using force.

“A security guard nowadays really, is there more for intimidation than anything else,” said NBCLA legal analyst Royal Oakes. “They do have an obligation to report what happened, to take reasonable steps to stop people. But those reasonable steps do not include shooting at a fleeing suspect.

The frustration is off the charts for security guards because they know they can get into a heap of trouble if they do basically anything to stop somebody. They can be accused of assault. And obviously, if they shoot a gun, they could be responsible for a wrongful death or an assault themselves.”

Even if the security guard was lawfully armed, the law states someone’s life must be in danger to justify shooting.

“The fact the suspect was actually driving away means it’s going to be very hard to prove that he was in a position to injure or harm or kill somebody else,” Oakes said.

Police said they took the security guard into custody and later released him. Oakes said this is likely because the investigation is not complete yet and they are still trying to piece together what happened and if anyone’s life was in danger before the shooting.

“The real takeaway from this kind of situation is don’t get involved or you could get into major trouble, whether you’re a guard or a customer,” Oakes advised. “Taking cell phone video and being available to testify, to say what happened, that’s your best option.”

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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