Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies fatally shot Armando Garcia-Muro, a 17-year-old boy, while firing at a dog in Palmdale, California, on June 22 (video below).
The deputies were answering a call about a loud party at an apartment complex, KTLA reports.
According to sheriff’s officials, investigators do not believe the deputies saw the teen, whom they mistakenly killed just after 3:40 a.m., notes the Los Angeles Times.
Capt. Christopher Bergner of the Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau spoke about the shooting at a press conference.
"[Armando] may have been struck by one of the skip rounds in what we’re calling an extremely, extremely unfortunate incident," Bergner said. "Our initial impression was [the deputies] didn't even see the individual coming around from the side of the building.
According to Bergner, Armando restrained the pit bull after the dog bit a deputy. The teen took the dog to the back of the complex, but the pit bull apparently broke loose and charged the deputies a second time.
Bergner said two deputies opened fire, the dog was hit and ran to the carport area of the apartment complex. That's where deputies saw Armando was wounded. The deputies reportedly administered first aid until paramedics arrived.
The deputy, who the dog bit, was also hit in the leg by part of a bullet that bounced off the ground during the gunfire. Officials believe bullets that ricocheted off the ground struck Armando.
Armando's mother, Roberta Alcantar, said her son was about to be a senior in high school, loved dogs and was the oldest of four children.
"He would give his life for anybody," Alcantar stated. "He was a very loving person."
Armando’s aunt, Amber Alcantar, recalled that deputies told her Armando had been shot while trying to prevent the dog from attacking a second time.
The pit bull's owner refused to give her name to the Los Angeles Times because she had "too many things going on with the law right now."
"[The neighborhood kids] are all my friends," the dog's owner stated. "They are good kids. They come over and they listen to music."
The dog owner admitted the pit bull was off its leash, but insisted the pooch was well-mannered.
She didn't believe the deputies' assertions that her dog attacked them: "That's not my dog. That's not his personality."
According to Bergner, the woman's dog survived the shooting, but will be put down.
The sheriff's department use-of-force policy allows deputies to shoot an animal if the deputies "reasonably believe" they could be seriously injured or killed by the animal.