LAPD releases body-cam footage of Boyle Heights gunfire exchange that left officer wounded

LOS ANGELES, California – Police released body-cam footage Monday documenting an exchange of gunfire between a fleeing gang member and an LAPD officer, who was left wounded back in November in Boyle Heights.

The footage shows the officer James Sigbisal, running toward the suspect then falling to the ground after getting shot in the arm.

The confrontation took place at around 7:08 p.m. Nov. 29, when Sigbisal and his partner, both Gang Enforcement Detail officers assigned to the Hollenbeck Division, were in a police vehicle patrolling the area of Malabar and Fickett streets. They observed a man — later identified as Nathan Alexander Tovar, 21, of Los Angeles — whom they recognized as a known gang member on formal probation, authorities said.

The officer driving the patrol car slowed to a stop and Tovar started to run away, officials said. Sigbisal, who was in the passenger seat, got out of the car and started chasing Tovar on foot while his partner followed in the police car, said LAPD Capt. Gisselle Espinoza.

Tovar was running when he turned and shot Sigbisal, causing the officer to fall to the ground, Espinoza said. Simultaneously, Sigbisal shot at Tovar but did not strike him.

In Sigbisal’s body-worn camera footage, the driver officer can be heard asking, “Partner, where’d he go?” as Sigbisal responds, “He went westbound, bro. Hey, cover me, cover me, bro.”

The driver officer’s bodycam footage shows him finding Tovar lying on the ground with his hands up, with Tovar’s gun on the sidewalk a few feet away from him. The officers later recovered a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol from the scene, authorities said.

Tovar was transported to the Metropolitan Detention Center where he was seen by the jail doctor and subsequently transported to the USC Medical Center for a minor abrasion and complaint of pain to his arm. 

He was released shortly after and medically cleared for booking, authorities said.

On Dec. 3, 2019, the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office charged Tovar with one count of attempted murder on a police officer, three counts of discharging a a firearm causing great bodily injury, and one count of felon in possession of a firearm with gang enhancement.

A preliminary hearing is pending.

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