March 8, 2006

Sheriff's Deputy Charged in Shooting After Car Chase


LOS ANGELES, March 7 A sheriff's deputy in San Bernardino County whose videotaped shooting of a man poised to surrender drew national attention has been charged with attempted voluntary manslaughter.

The deputy, Ivory Webb, who remains on paid administrative leave, is widely expected to surrender in court on Wednesday, said Michael A. Ramos, the San Bernardino district attorney, who announced the charges on Tuesday.

Mr. Ramos said he concluded that Deputy Webb acted unreasonably on Jan. 29 when he shot the man, Elio Carrion, 21, an Air Force security officer who had recently returned from duty in Iraq, three times after a car chase in Chino.

A somewhat fuzzy video taken by a bystander and played repeatedly on television programs shows Deputy Webb pointing a gun and standing over Mr. Carrion on the ground next to the car. Mr. Carrion is shown beginning to rise, after Deputy Webb commanded him to do so, the prosecutor said, and the deputy then shot him. In an interview, Mr. Ramos said enhancements of the video made clear that Mr. Carrion had been ordered to rise and that although Deputy Webb fired out of fear for his safety, his actions were unreasonable.

"We feel the deputy did intend to kill the victim and that at the time he did it because he felt endangered and needed to," Mr. Ramos said. "However, the big element was that the threat was unreasonable."

Mr. Ramos did not explain Deputy Webb's actions and declined to say what the deputy had told investigators who interviewed him. His union declined to comment. Mr. Ramos said the charges, which carry a maximum penalty of 181/2 years in prison, include special filings that say Deputy Webb's actions were worsened by causing serious injury to Mr. Carrion and using a firearm.

Sheriff Gary Penrod said, "I respect the decision of the district attorney's office" but added that he would not comment further because an internal affairs investigation of Deputy Webb was continuing.

Mr. Carrion, shot in the chest, shoulder and thigh, is recovering in a hospital. The driver of the car in which he was riding, Luis Escobedo, was charged on Tuesday with attempting to evade arrest while driving recklessly and driving under the influence.

This is the first time that a San Bernardino County officer has faced criminal charges resulting from an on-duty shooting, Mr. Ramos said.