L.A. County Sheriff's Department releases footage from fatal shooting of woman who called 911 for domestic violence incident

LOS ANGELES, CA - On Friday, December 29, 2023, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (LACSD) released body camera footage of an officer-involved shooting from December 4, 2023. 

According to FOX News, the deputy fatally shot a woman who had called 911 over an alleged domestic violence situation with her boyfriend. The woman, identified as 27-year-old Niani Finlayson, called 911 and told them that her boyfriend was refusing to leave her house. 

Three deputies responded to the call and when they arrived at the home, Finlayson opened the front door holding a large kitchen knife. She told deputies that she was going to "stab her boyfriend" for allegedly harming her nine-year-old daughter. The little girl was standing next to her mother at the time and allegedly told the deputies that the man had "punched" or "pushed" her.

Body camera footage shows Deputy Ty Shelton shoot Finlayson four times within approximately three seconds of entering the woman's apartment. The deputy asked another deputy for her Taser right before entering and was holding the Taser in one hand and his handgun in the other when he fatally shot Finlayson. 

Based off the footage, Finlayson did not drop the knife once officers entered the apartment and instead walked back over to her boyfriend who appears to put his hand towards her neck, but is then grabbed by Finlayson. This is when Shelton fires his duty weapon as Finlayson is holding the eight-inch kitchen knife in one hand and grabbing her boyfriend with the other hand. It does not appear any other de-escalation tactics were used before the shooting. 

The shooting did take place in front of the nine-year-old daughter and after the shooting, the boyfriend can be heard saying, "No, no, why did you shoot?" According to the sheriff's department, Finlayson was provided first aid before being transported to a hospital, where she was then pronounced dead.

The boyfriend was arrested for child abuse and assault on a police officer, but was later released pending further investigation. According to ABC7, in a 911 audio clip released by the sheriff's department, Finlayson can be heard telling dispatchers that the man "won't get out of my house" and "he will not leave me alone."

While arguing with the man in the background, she can be heard saying, "I need the police here right now. No, cause he won't get his hands off of me." California law dictates that body camera footage from an officer-involved shooting must be released within 45 days of the incident.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna released the following statement on the release of the video, "The Department released the body-worn camera footage ahead of the legal timeframe to demonstrate our commitment to transparency and the visual representation of the facts in this case. As the comprehensive review process continues the Department will gain additional insight into the incident with the goal of improving public safety."

The Los Angeles County District Attorney office will be conducting its own independent review of the incident. Shelton has been removed from the field as the investigation continues, which is standard practice and in accordance with policy. The sheriff's department said, "Every deputy-involved shooting is traumatic for all involved and each incident has its unique set of circumstances and complexities ... the department will examine and evaluate every aspect of the shooting including the response, its tactics, and background of the employee."
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