Officers cleared in fatal shooting

DOWNEY - Downey police officers were acting in lawful self-defense when they shot and killed 30-year-old Stephen Bours earlier this year as he walked in the middle of Paramount Boulevard brandishing an axe, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office concluded after its investigation into the shooting.The DA released its findings on Tuesday. Two detectives in an unmarked patrol car, responding to several 911 calls, confronted Bours on March 20 as he walked in the No. 2 lane of traffic on Paramount Boulevard, south of Imperial Highway, the report states. Witnesses described Bours as brandishing a hatchet, which investigators described as a 14-inch True Temper single-edged axe. The detectives ordered Bours to drop his weapon, but "instead he ignored their repeated commands and advanced toward them." One of the detectives attempted to retrieve a non-lethal shotgun from the trunk of his car, but was unable to open the trunk because he had left the keys in the ignition, the report says. A surveillance system recorded Bours taking 25 steps toward the detectives after he was given his first order to drop his weapon, officials said. Bours then walked out of video range but the audio recorded a detective ordering Bours to drop his weapon an additional four times before the detectives opened fire. The DA report lists three witnesses who saw Bours raise his hand up just prior to the detectives firing their weapons. Bours was shot 10 times, according to an autopsy report. An analysis of Bours' blood showed the presence of amphetamine and methamphetamine at the time of his death, DA investigators said. Downey police had an altercation with Bours about a month before the fatal shooting. On Feb. 22, officers responded to a call of a pedestrian in the roadway on Paramount Boulevard. Officers reportedly found Bours, unarmed, kneeling in the street yelling "Please God forgive me!" Officers used a taser on Bours after he allegedly struggled and resisted arrest. The DA report also quotes a family member as saying Bours was scheduled to be admitted into VA mental facility before he was fatally shot. As is standard in all officer-involved shootings, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's handled the investigation.

********** Published: October 21, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 27