Man fatally shot by Azusa officer after robbery attempt was unarmed

AZUSA – A 26-year-old Covina man who was fatally shot by an Azusa police officer early Monday after an aborted robbery attempt at an adult store was unarmed, sheriff’s investigators said Tuesday.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau is investigating the shooting death of Jovan Rivera, who was suspected of an attempted robbery at the Red Panty’s Lingerie in the 500 block of South Citrus Avenue.

Rivera, who was shot in the upper torso, was taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center and died shortly after, Lt. Dave Dolson of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.

“We captured some surveillance video that showed (Rivera) walking into the store and coming back out,” Dolson said. “We’ll be looking to determine if there is video surveillance that captures the actual shooting” as well.

Rivera went into the 24-hour store at about 12:30 a.m. Monday, simulated a weapon by putting his hand in his jacket and demanded money from the store clerk, Dolson said.

His robbery attempt was foiled when the Azusa police officer drove into the parking lot on a routine patrol check. When the suspect saw the officer, he walked out of the store without any money, Dolson said.

The store’s clerk and a customer who witnessed the attempted robbery flagged down the officer and directed him to the suspect. When the officer tried to detain him at gunpoint, the suspect sat down on a stairway that leads to Citrus Avenue for a while, thenstood up and ran away, Dolson said.

The officer followed the suspect across Citrus Avenue. When the suspect made a move toward his waistband, the officer – having been told he was a robbery suspect and thinking he had a weapon – fired and the suspect went down, Dolson said.

Sheriff’s investigators have interviewed another witnessing police officer, the store clerk, a customer that had been in the store and some who witnessed all or part of the shooting incident, he said.

“If there are any more we’re not aware of, we’d be asking them to give us a call,” Dolson said.

Investigators will also be examining physical evidence, he said.

Dolson declined to release the name of the Azusa police officer but said he has worked in law enforcement for 19 years.

Dolson said he was told at the scene that Rivera was once on probation for a narcotics-related offense but the investigator did not know whether he was still on probation when he was shot.

The Azusa Police Department declined to comment on the case Tuesday, referring all inquiries to the Sheriff’s Department. The police department generally forwards its officer-involved shooting cases to the Sheriff’s Department, an officer said.

- Brenda Gazzar

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