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Wednesday December 12th, 2018 4:53PM

Slain grocery store manager's family slams edited LAPD video

By The Associated Press
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — The family of a bystander accidentally killed by police when they tried to stop a gunman from entering a Los Angeles grocery store blasted newly released video of the shooting Tuesday, saying it's carefully crafted to paint officers in the best light.

The video released by the Los Angeles Police Department shows officers chasing suspect Gene Evin Atkins after they say he shot his grandmother and kidnapped his girlfriend.

It includes about six minutes of footage from the 14-minute car chase, the ensuing July 21 shootout with police outside a Trader Joe's, and the hourslong standoff inside the grocery store after the gunman took hostages. It also includes lengthy messages from two department officials.

Lawyers representing the family of Mely Corado, the store manager killed by police in the shootout, called the video a "highly edited, narrated, slickly produced public relations piece."

"Rather than act in a spirit of transparency, (police) have turned it into a public relations effort to shine the most favorable light on the actions of the officers that were involved in this shooting," said attorney John Taylor at a news conference. "They want to control the narrative."

Despite multiple requests, Taylor said the department has refused to release unedited car, helicopter and officer body-camera footage of the shooting.

Corado's father, Albert Corado, spoke through tears about his daughter at the news conference, saying she "was a very special person who loved her family and friends."

"We are devastated by her loss," he said. "We have many questions about how Mely died but we don't have any answers."

Department spokesman Josh Rubenstein didn't return a message seeking comment. He's one of the department officials who speaks to viewers in the video, saying it's meant to help the public "gain a better understanding of what occurred that afternoon based on what we know right now."

He said the department is still in the early stages of its investigation and hasn't drawn any conclusions about the conduct of the officers involved.

The department previously released some footage from body cameras and in-car videos. Tuesday's release includes more footage, 911 calls about the initial shooting that prompted the chase, and officers' radio traffic.

At one point, the video is put in slow motion to show bullets flying from the back of the car that Atkins was driving during a wild chase through several Los Angeles neighborhoods.

It also captures the moment Atkins crashes the car into a pole outside of the Trader Joe's, gets out, starts firing and runs inside.

Footage from police body cameras shows them returning fire before and after Atkins runs in the store, and the moment that police say one of Atkins' bullets hits a pole near a block wall where officers took cover.

Taylor said the footage that has been released leaves far too many unanswered questions.

"The Corado family does not know what Mely Corado's last moments were like or how she died, or how long from the time she was shot until she died, or the location where she died," he said. "The family deserves answers to these questions, and we would like the city to step forward and give us access to this material."

Atkins, 28, has been charged with murder in Corado's death as well as kidnapping and carjacking. His arraignment is set for Sept. 19. It's unclear whether he has an attorney.

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