The Los Angeles Times once again ended up being the center of attention.
Many commentators pointed to the newspaper’s lack of objectivity in the story titled “Officers, critics split on ‘edged weapons’ threat.”
The story, written by LA Times writer Kevin Rector, depicted the case of a man who was killed by the L.A. Police Department (LAPD) after he wielded a sword.
The newspaper described the killing as troublesome given that the sword-wielder was known to be ‘mentally ill.’
The case of a ‘mentally ill’ man
The incident covered by the Los Angeles Times happened in May 2020 and involved a 50-year-old Rommel Mendoza from North Hollywood in San Fernando Valley.
Mendoza was allegedly reported by his neighbor for damaging his car ‘with a stick.’
After the police officers arrived at the scene, Mendoza came outside of a separate rear unit in which he lived, holding a sword in his hand.
Following the repeated commands to stay in place, which he disobeyed, the North Hollywood resident was fatally shot by the police officers in the area of his chest.
Conflicting interpretations of the event
The bulk of the newspaper’s article contained information about the incident and what its author perceived as mistakes committed by L.A. police officers.
Some of the errors discussed included that Mendoza was at 77 feet distance, far enough not to pose a lethal threat to police officers.
Most crucially, the newspaper emphasized how the man was “obviously mentally ill” and as such “needed help” instead of being indiscriminately killed.
The L.A. Times also featured testimonies by Mendoza’s family members who lamented about his unfortunate death.
This description of the case sparked much controversy.
Writers from other media outlets pointed out that Mendoza was visibly heading toward the police officers and would have possibly posed a much more significant lethal threat to them if he was allowed to come closer.
Some of these commentators even stressed that the L.A. Times article irresponsibly failed to address the family’s role in the lack of Mendoza’s adequate mental health treatment.