Two Torrance police officers have been indicted by a grand jury for fatally shooting Christopher Deandre Mitchell in December 2018. The defendants, Matthew Concannon and Anthony Chavez, pleaded not guilty to voluntary manslaughter charges Monday and are due to appear back in court on May 15.
This is a victory for Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, who reversed his predecessor Jackie Lacey’s decision not to seek charges against the two men. Lacey’s office had determined that the officers were justified in shooting Mitchell, who refused to get out of the car and was seen moving his hands toward a gun that turned out to be an air rifle.
The Los Angeles Times has since reported that both officers were investigated in connection with a racist text messaging scandal, in which officers used the N-word and joked about setting Black people up to be killed. There is no evidence Concannon or Chavez sent any of the text messages.
At Gascón’s discretion, Mitchell's death was reevaluated by independent Special Prosecutor Lawrence Middleton.
“He thoroughly reviewed and analyzed the evidence and decided to seek a grand jury indictment,” said Gascón. “We support his decision to do so and we are pleased that the grand jury returned the indictment.”
Gascón came to office in 2020 on a promise to hold police officers accountable for misconduct. His office has filed criminal charges against 15 cops so far. Only two L.A.-area officers were hit with criminal charges in the 20 years before he was elected.