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Crime Seen

A cop is cleared in a deadly raid gone wrong but not by the deceased’s family.



Bounmy Ousa’s children still speak of their 59-year-old, pot-bellied father in the present tense. Because of his violent passing, the family believes Bounmy’s tormented ghost is always nearby, trapped between this life and his next incarnation. To ward him off, a length of white string, unremarkable except for a blessing by Buddhist monks, fortifies the exterior of their brown rambler.

“He can’t come into the house,” explains 27-year-old Chanhda, the oldest of Bounmy and his wife Bay’s four children. “But he is here.”

At the temple, friends and family tendered blankets, shoes, coffee and well-wishes to help the lost soul find his way, a journey Chanhda says will last three years. Although Buddha doesn’t allow gifts of cigarettes and liquor, Bounmy’s favorites, the contraband periodically appears for the taking on the Ousas’ back porch.

“He just doesn’t know that he’s dead yet,” says Chanhda. And until Bounmy finds peace, he’ll continue about his daily routine'work, garden, drink, smoke and bother his friends, albeit in their sleep. The string seems to be working, though: Save disturbing a single dream of his oldest son, Steve, Bounmy hasn’t pestered the Ousas.

That passes as good news since early the morning of July 7, when a West Valley City Police narcotics detective shot Bounmy to death'in the street, in front of his home, as his wife and son looked on. Nearly four months later, Bounmy’s survivors can’t fathom why lethal force was necessary, why authorities have dismissed or ignored eyewitness accounts that cast doubt on the official story and why the shooter is still on the job. Their attorneys are doggedly investigating that shooter, and they say what they’ve found should warrant another look at the shooting, if not a rewrite of the final report.

Jungle Warfare to Urban Combat

At 13, Bounmy Ousa was conscripted into the Royal Laotian Army. Shortly after the United States ceded Vietnam in 1973, the better part of Southeast Asia fell under the harshest brand of communist rule.

With 3-year-old Chanhda in tow, and pregnant with her now 25-year-old daughter, Chanhdeng, Bay Ousa fled Laos for Thailand in 1980. She rendezvoused with Bounmy across the border, and the family immigrated to the United States in 1983, eventually settling in West Valley City.

They rented one unit of a four-plex in the neighborhood of Lake Park, then a word-of-mouth way station for Asian refugees. Their first son, Steve, came along in 1984, followed by his brother Johny three years later. Working low-paying manufacturing jobs, the couple’s growing family appeared doomed to an increasingly dreadful part of the city. Steve says it was for his sake that his sisters took charge of the living situation.

At the ripe age of 10, Steve became the youngest member of Original Laotian Gangsters, a junior-league street gang formed in the early ’90s, which has since been locked in a deadly feud with another Asian gang.

In 1999, Chanhda and Chanhdeng jumped on a low-income loan offer and moved the family out of poverty- and crime-racked Lake Park. They unpacked a couple miles west in a tasteful new subdivision of stucco and two-car garages. But even a well-meaning homeowners association was no match for the gangs, drugs and violence that straddle the border between this suburban haven and the simmering bedlam nearby.

Around the time of the move, Steve began severing his gang ties. “The gang member ain’t me anymore,” he insists, surveying his father’s neglected garden from the back deck. “It was just a role that I played during my teenage years.” Stabbed twice and shot once, it’s understandable he wasn’t married to the part.

But the thugs Steve used to tangle with don’t hold their grudges lightly.

“The drive-bys were retaliation for what my friends would go do,” Steve says, explaining two revenge shootings in 2002 that riddled the Ousa home. “I know what happened that got my house shot up. They told me be careful … because they might think it’s you.” But, he adds emphatically, “I didn’t go retaliate.”

Not long after, Steve had a chance run-in with more old foes looking to settle old scores. The confrontation came to blows, and he pleaded guilty to a class-A misdemeanor of criminal mischief rather than finger his adversaries who, he sheepishly notes, didn’t hold up their end of the code. It was his first and only adult conviction, but the judge gave him the “menace to society” speech anyway, along with a stern 12-month sentence in county lockup.

Within two weeks of booking out of jail in December 2003'four months shaved off for good behavior'Steve was hired on at a phone bank. He hasn’t looked back, rising to the rank of team coach, and waving off salaried promotions, he says, because he doesn’t want to lose out on copious overtime pay. Now, despite a checkered past with police, he wants to be a gang-enforcement officer. “One of the good ones,” he clarifies, noting, “I already got the street smarts.”

Steve boasts of being Bounmy’s favorite and recalls the definitive fishing trip of many he took with his father as a boy. “I was behind him when he was going to [cast] out, and the hook caught onto my eye,” the son says, tugging at a scar above his left brow. “And that’s the last time I remember us going fishing.”

And Steve’s very last memory of his father: “I just seen blood coming out of his mouth, his eyes were rolled back, and blood was everywhere … it looked like his hands were handcuffed, because they were behind his back.”

Man Down

Shortly after midnight, Bounmy stepped out for a smoke on the front porch. He’d been drinking that night, most likely vodka. At the time, his family says, he was barefoot, wrapped at the waist in a sarong (skirt), wearing glasses and a “Happy Valentine’s Day” T-shirt.

Bounmy immediately spotted the idling maroon sedan parked almost entirely on the sidewalk at the end of his driveway, less than a standing broad jump from Steve’s decked-out Cadillac. Lights off, no front license plate, tinted windows and two silhouettes. Bounmy smoked another one hoping they’d shove off. No such luck.

He woke Steve at 12:28 a.m. In nothing but boxers, Steve chased up the stairs and cracked open the front door as Bounmy narrated from behind. Neither of them had seen that car before.

Like a broken Laotian record, Bounmy laid into Steve about his flashy car, and why he doesn’t park it in the garage like he’s supposed to. Bay peeled away from her videos in the basement and came up to find out what was going on.

Bounmy told them he’d try another smoke to see if the hooligans would get the hint. They didn’t. So he went back inside and slid on a pair of slippers. He told Bay and Steve to stay put in case those guys were after more than just Steve’s car.

Peeking through parted blinds at the living room window, Steve watched Bounmy pause on the porch for about 30 seconds and then amble cautiously down the driveway. Bay, whose sight and hearing have deteriorated rapidly over the past several years, prodded Steve in Laotian, What’s going on? What’s going on?

“Nothing, nothing,” Steve says he chided back.

“And that’s when he went to the sidewalk, where the lane goes flat,” Steve recalls. “He started looking inside [the car], and then he was going slowly to the driver’s side. … I could see his head. And then he was standing there looking at them. I didn’t hear what was going on, I didn’t see him pull nothing out. … Then that’s when I heard boom, boom, boom! And I know gunshots, and I seen the sparks in the car, and that’s when I ran outside.”

Steve says both doors on the suspect vehicle were open, with blue and red lights flashing inside. A plainclothes officer in a bulletproof vest, carrying what Steve took to be an AR-15 assault rifle, immediately called out: Steve, sit down.

“He knew my name,” Steve says. “And that’s when I realized all these guys were cops.”

Wailing in what seemed like “tremendous pain” to a horrified neighbor, Steve continued toward the hood of the car, where he caught a glimpse of his father lying face-first in the street, hands behind his back. He saw nothing in Bounmy’s hands. The officer intercepted him there and escorted Steve back to the driveway.

Neighbors recall frantic shouts of Man down! Man down! from the street below. An unmarked West Valley City Police van barreled from the west to a house across the street and to the east of the Ousas’ home. Neighbors say a loudspeaker blared: This is West Valley Police. We’re here to serve a warrant at 2932 Losser.

The duo turned out to be undercover West Valley City narcotics detectives, there to stake out another home in preparation for the warrant service. Other officers on the scene quickly raided that house, mistakenly believing the gunshots came from its direction. The Ousas maintain the foul-ups and an alleged cover-up were just getting started.

The Investigation

Within minutes of the shooting, police sequestered Steve in a squad car away from the scene, where he estimates he waited alone for at least two hours. That’s where he was, when Bounmy was pronounced dead on arrival at Pioneer Valley Hospital. As the rest of the family emerged from the house'including Bay, Chanhda, her husband Somboun “Scott” Khommarath, and the couple’s two children'police ushered them down the street.

Chanhda tried to go to her father. They wouldn’t allow it. Scott says he and the baby were bringing up the rear, when two officers in full SWAT regalia passed into the house. Giving up free run of the place to police was a grievous mistake, a late-arriving family friend counseled. “But we didn’t know,” Steve says. “They told us we had to leave.”

Nearby residents say they witnessed at least four body-armor clad officers enter the Ousa residence, while a patrolman stood guard, arms folded, at the front door. The Ousas point out that police didn’t produce a warrant to search the house. And based on the line of questioning during their interviews with investigators, coupled with persistent official ambiguity about whether and what type of weapon Bounmy may have had, the family can only surmise the police were scrambling to generate a “smoking gun” that would justify the killing. The Ousas hold that Bounmy was unarmed at all times that night.

In the back of the squad car, Steve says he zoned in on chatter coming over the radio. He figured one particular female voice must have belonged to a high-ranking officer, because she was barking questions and venting her frustration.

Paraphrasing the woman, Steve says she demanded to know who did the shooting and stated it was a bad shooting that the department didn’t need. Then a male voice came on, reminding all that it was an open radio channel, Steve says. Almost immediately, another officer opened the patrol car door, asked Steve how he was holding up, turned off the radio, flipped down the laptop and left, Steve recalls.

Approximately two to three hours after the shooting, Steve says West Valley Police Detective John LeFavor summoned him out of the squad car. The Ousas claim LeFavor’s questions proved an ominous harbinger for the rest of the investigation.

Steve was aghast when he says the detective repeatedly asked if he saw the drive-by shooting that claimed Bounmy. “I go, ‘Man, you guys shot my dad … I was looking out the window.’”

“That’s when he didn’t want me to say it in front of everybody, I guess, so he goes, ‘Come with me.’” Steve says they then walked down the street to the department’s mobile-command center, where LeFavor and another officer resumed the debriefing.

With a digital audio recorder running, Steve says they pressed the drive-by angle a couple more times, and inquired if he had any outstanding beefs with rival gangsters. Steve was incredulous, finally telling the officers he wouldn’t answer their questions until they updated him on Bounmy’s condition. At that, he says the detectives stepped out of the trailer for a moment and, upon their return, “their heads were down, they were quiet, and I knew what happened.”

Steve cut off the interview but, on the way back to his house, he says the officers asked if Bounmy had any weapons. Steve told them no. They asked again if perhaps he had a gun. No, Steve said. Maybe Bounmy had Steve’s gun? Flummoxed, he says he told them there were no weapons in the house, save for two show daggers still in the box in a back room, and a Maglite flashlight that Bounmy, an avid gardener, used for snail-gazing in the back yard.

Steve says the detectives keyed into the flashlight. They asked him to describe it and where Bounmy kept it, Steve says. He told them. Several cops milled in and out of the house for a few minutes, Steve says, when LeFavor came back with a small, green pocket flashlight. Steve told him that wasn’t the flashlight he was talking about, but that his dad probably had one like that, too. Steve says LeFavor finally directed him to the rear of the unmarked police vehicle, where a long, black flashlight stood upright on the trunk.

Is this your dad’s flashlight? Steve says LeFavor asked.

“It looks like his.”

Is it his?

“I can’t say if it’s his or not.

“And then I told them, ‘Fingerprint it; if it’s his, it will have fingerprints.’ That’s when LeFavor told me it won’t have no fingerprints on it, and we left it at that.”

Meanwhile, Chanhda says she was getting much the same treatment. She’d inquired for hours how her dad was faring, and police just wouldn’t say. “The damn news knew before I did,” she laments.

Hours after the shooting, Chanhda says police had yet to reveal that an officer pulled the trigger. Like Steve, she says investigators seemed more interested to know if her brother had trouble with rival gangs. “They led me to believe that it was a gang murder,” Chanhda says.

She adds that investigators seemed fixated on whether Bounmy or Steve had a gun, and she acknowledged when asked that the flashlight on the trunk of the car looked like her father’s. Putting it all together, though, Chanhda was soon convinced the police “were looking for something.”

When the family was allowed back into the home, the boot prints “were everywhere,” Steve says, “and we don’t wear shoes in the house.” The Ousas took pictures of the tossed beds, ransacked closets and apparent fingerprint dust throughout the house.

As friend, neighbor and homeowner association president Shadwrick Vick offers: “They’re an easy family to walk all over, because they’re humble people, they’re not outspoken, they’re second-generation, they comply.”

Vick complied with police, too, when they asked to “borrow” a home video recording of the night’s events that he took from his second-floor bathroom window. He focused primarily on the house that was raided, Vick says, assuming that’s where the action was. But he recalls panning two doors down to the Ousas’ house at least once. When he called West Valley City a few weeks ago to get the tape back, as promised, he was told all evidence in the case had been sealed under court order.

The Elusive Object

By 5 a.m., local TV stations were dubbing the shooting “every officer’s worst nightmare.” Some early accounts pegged Bounmy a “suspect.” But the police department’s description of Bounmy’s actions didn’t bear out a clear-cut crime and, as the news cycle wore on, he was recast as a “victim.”

At least three TV stations cited the department in reports that the two undercover narcotics detectives'since identified as Matt Carman and Steven Ward, the shooter'first engaged Bounmy in front of their unmarked police car. The officers reportedly flashed their badges, identified themselves and told Bounmy to move from the front of the car.

Assistant West Valley Police Chief Craig Black’s oft-repeated account picked it up from there. “The individual became argumentative, according to the officers, at that point and came around to the driver’s side door,” Black said. “At which time he reached behind his back and began to withdraw an object that the officer believes is a gun.”

The department did not identify the “object” and would not say whether there was one. Amid the midmorning confusion, Fox 13 News reported that, “The family says Ousa did not have a weapon, and police say they did not immediately find one.” Even more baffling, a KSL 5 anchor concluded that Bounmy “was armed'unarmed rather.”

Citing the ongoing investigation, West Valley City has yet to publicly identify the object that Black reported Ward “believes is” a gun. But the department wasn’t so fastidious when it came to Steve Ousa, whom one spokesman called “a documented gang member, by his own words,” in a broadcast news report.

And that was the final word from officials. That is, until last month when the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office issued its findings of a joint criminal probe with West Valley City Police. In detailing why Ward “reasonably” believed the use of deadly force was “necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury” to himself or another person, the DA’s report contradicts earlier police assertions and ignores the Ousas’ contentions.

Assistant Chief Black’s description of the “argumentative” exchange in front of the car, as quoted ad nauseam in the media? According to the DA’s report, it never happened. Instead, the report states Bounmy “walked over to the driver’s side of the unmarked police car,” and “did not say anything.” Once there, the report accepts that Bounmy “continued to stare into the vehicle but did not say anything.” Bounmy’s part in the argument, as it were, amounted to a single utterance in “broken English,” to the effect that he’d never seen Ward before. That makes more sense to his friends and family, who’ve contended all along Bounmy lacked the vocabulary to carry on even a simple conversation in English.

Given the evolving official version of events, Chanhda Ousa remains dubious. “Whatever words were exchanged, only my dad, Steve Ward and his partner know exactly what happened,” she says. “They can say whatever they want. My dad’s not here to defend himself.” But the family can’t see how chubby, gray-haired Bounmy posed a credible threat. He was old with a bad back and considerably slower since a 2000 lung operation, they say. Those who knew Bounmy say he habitually stood with a hand on his hip for support. The Ousas suspect Bounmy may have spooked Ward by reaching toward his back, though they can’t know for sure.

Ward noticed “a cylindrical black object bulging out” on Bounmy’s right side, as he stood about 2 feet away from the detective, the DA’s report states. That’s when Carman first outwardly displayed his badge, but the report notes both officers’ badges were hanging around their necks. Carman told Bounmy they were police, ironically, on the lookout “for people doing vehicle burglaries.” Next, Bounmy reportedly “fidgeted” with his shirt, pulling it over the “object” on his right side. “Ward then brought his service weapon to his lap and placed it between his legs.”

Gun at the ready, Ward reportedly held his badge out the open window and identified himself as an officer, whereupon Bounmy spoke his inauspicious last words. Still holding the badge, Ward reportedly raised his voice in repeating that they were police officers. Bounmy “took a quick step back,” pulled the object from his rear pocket, “drawing it toward Ward, also raising his left hand to the object.” As he saw the object coming through the car’s open window, Ward reared back, yelled and drew the weapon from between his legs, firing “four rapid rounds at Ousa, who fell to the ground.”

Carman exited the passenger side and placed handcuffs on Bounmy, the report states. Ward then stepped out, “and saw that Ousa was still holding the object, which was a large black metallic flashlight.”

Reached for comment on the DA’s findings, the office’s Justice Division Director Marty Verhoef, who signed off on the report in September, initially said the name Bounmy Ousa “doesn’t even ring a bell.” He referred the inquiry to the public information officer, Deputy District Attorney Robert Stott. “We don’t comment on the ones we don’t file charges on,” Stott said.

A Question of Credibility

Enter Ousa family attorneys Ted McBride and Clark Newhall. Their ongoing investigation into the shooting became public Oct. 28 with the filing of a federal wrongful death and civil-rights suit against Ward, Carman, West Valley City and 20 “John Does” standing in for police supervisors and the other officers on the scene that night. The attorneys are convinced criminal action remains warranted, and they indicate such inquiries may be underway.

“I think it’s accurate to say that the district attorney’s account of the investigation, at least as we know it, completely ignored any evidence presented by Steve Ousa and appeared to accept the evidence of the police officers at face value without any skepticism whatsoever,” says Newhall.

“The Defendants conspired among themselves to tamper with evidence, to create false evidence and to mislead the District Attorney investigator,” the complaint alleges, adding that police “conducted an improper, illegal and warrantless search of the Ousa house in an attempt to manufacture evidence with which to exculpate a fellow police officer of a charge of wrongful killing.”

For McBride and Newhall, the DA’s take on the flashlight and the chain of events that led to Bounmy’s death raises further questions about the reasonableness of Ward’s actions and the thoroughness of the DA’s investigation.

“First of all, the guy gets shot four times and handcuffed, and he’s still holding onto the flashlight?” Newhall asks, rhetorically. “It just doesn’t make common sense.”

McBride promises they’ll scrutinize the chain of custody on that key piece of evidence to perhaps understand why the department was so vague about the “object” that was so obviously a flashlight in the dying man’s hand. They’re also interested to determine why the flashlight was moved from the immediate crime scene to its upright position on the trunk of the car and eagerly await the results of tests for blood and gunshot residue, which they maintain should be present on the flashlight.

Besides the omissions, Newhall and McBride say the most startling revelation in the DA’s report is that when Ward first perceived Bounmy as a threat, rather than get out of the car to confront that threat, he readied his gun between his legs and waited.

“It seems inconceivable to me that the very first action you take on observing a possible weapon is to get ready to shoot the guy,” says Newhall. “He eliminated most the possibilities for nonlethal force by not getting out of the car.”

The complaint alleges Ward and Carman had numerous “feasible” opportunities to confront the perceived threat, short of lethal force. Among the allegedly missed opportunities, the officers failed to warn Bounmy as he approached the car, and they didn’t display their weapons or command Bounmy to assume a suitable position for frisking and arrest.

Once Ward perceived Bounmy as a threat, says McBride, “Point the gun at him.”

It’s become apparent to Newhall and McBride that officials ascribe little or no credibility to their clients’ accounts of what happened that night. Newhall is particularly annoyed with West Valley City’s characterization of Steve Ousa as a documented gang member and implications that previous drive-by shootings at the home somehow factored into Bounmy’s death, which he says should have given the officers a heightened sensitivity to the home.

“Steve Ousa is not a known gang member,” Newhall insists. “West Valley City is very well aware that Steve has left the gang and in fact has turned his life around to such an extent that he has a very good relationship with a couple of officers on the West Valley force.”

McBride calls the focus on Steve’s criminal record a “red herring” to distract from the facts of the case, and “irrelevant” to Bounmy’s killing. And no one’s track record is more germane than that of the officer who fired the fatal shots, he says.

“Street Credibility”

That information has been difficult to come by. Informed of the federal complaint, Ward said Monday he’d been advised not to comment, and his attorney, Alan Larson, didn’t return a message for comment. West Valley City denied City Weekly’s requests for any past disciplinary action taken against Ward or Carman, and the city has yet to fulfill a request for public documents related to the shooting.

Ward and Carman, 26 and 27, respectively, were among eight officers from West Valley City and the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office involved in the March 2004 shooting death of Donald Neuman, according to the DA’s closure report, which ruled that shooting justified. Neuman reportedly fired at a West Valley City motorcycle cop during an attempted traffic stop and fled. When police later cornered Neuman at a Midvale apartment complex, he fired at them. No officers were injured, and an autopsy found Neuman sustained injuries from “27 projectiles.”

After that shooting, the Ousas’ lawsuit alleges, Ward and other officers involved in the shooting had a barbecue at which he boasted about gaining “street credibility.” Ward also allegedly “boasted that he was the officer responsible for killing the individual, because he shot the man in the head.”

Several West Valley City Police officers declined to discuss the case or the officers involved. But one officer who has worked with Ward offered that he’s a solid cop and a good guy. Carman has received commendations for his police work, including a distinguished award last year for his part in bringing down a multistate methamphetamine ring, department Capt. Steve Sandquist said.

With official channels of information all but closed off to them, Newhall and McBride employed the services of a private investigator. In an Oct. 3 field report, attached as an exhibit to the lawsuit, the investigator described a “trash retrieval and search,” conducted near Ward’s Salt Lake City home late on Sept. 28. From a garbage can placed at the curb in front of Ward’s home, “I retrieved suspected residual narcotics, suspected narcotics paraphernalia, documents and other items from the enclosed white plastic trash bags,” wrote the private investigator, who declined a request for comment and, citing the sensitive nature of his work, requested not to be identified by name.

The complaint describes “financial documents and utility bills” bearing Ward’s name that were found in the trash can, as well as “numerous documents bearing information identifying them as West Valley City police records, West Valley City police narcotics information, or [Drug Enforcement Administration] records.” The Ousas’ attorneys also claim the documents found in the trash can appear to include identifying information of confidential informants.

Newhall is quick to point out that he doesn’t suggest the suspected narcotics and paraphernalia are Ward’s, “that he used it in any way, or that he is involved with it in any way. But, again, it was found in what appears to be his trash can, associated with documents with his name on them'a lot of documents.”

The attorneys have yet to determine if the suspected narcotics and paraphernalia'“a small metal pipe with brown residue, several small vials with white crystalline substances and a short straw of the type used for nasal inhalation of illegal narcotic drugs,” according to the complaint'are in fact illegal contraband. They immediately turned the evidence over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to the complaint, “because it seemed rather obvious to us that it was illegal contraband,” McBride says.

In discussions with federal authorities about what to do with the “circumstantial evidence,” Newhall says a representative from the U.S. Attorney’s Office indicated it was also investigating the Ousa shooting. However, Newhall says the representative told him the evidence could not be used for the purposes of that unspecified investigation.

Melodie Rydalch, a public information officer for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said, “Until there’s a publicly filed document of some kind, we can’t confirm or deny investigations.”

According to the complaint, the FBI turned the evidence over to the Salt Lake City Police Department’s narcotics unit for investigation. Copies of the investigator’s findings were forwarded to the county DA’s office, and to the firm representing West Valley City. Newhall says the sergeant in charge of the Salt Lake City investigation has indicated the suspected narcotics will be substance-tested but won’t be tested for fingerprints or DNA, as Newhall would like. “We expect that the police will preserve the evidence so we can do that,” Newhall says.

McBride adds that beyond the trash haul, they’ve obtained “information from a variety of sources that goes to Officer Ward’s credibility and perhaps his state of mind that night, and we will pursue, investigate and foreclose every one of those suspicions.”

Among them, the complaint alleges: “Ward obtained illegal androgenic steroids from a foreign country during 2004. The illegal steroids were shipped to Ward packed in children’s toys. Ward used illegal androgenic steroids during 2004 … through 2005, up to and including all times material to this complaint.” And, the complaint alleges, “Prior to July 2004, West Valley City Police Department knew that Ward used steroids for nonmedical purposes.”

Newhall charges that Ward’s alleged steroid use “shows poor judgment that pours into every aspect of his work. If we can show that he was using around the time of the shooting, and I think we can, then there’s good reason to believe the steroids would have contributed to impairing his judgment'what people commonly refer to as ’roid rage.”

As disappointed as they were with the initial investigation into Bounmy’s death, and especially with the DA’s part in it, Newhall says: “We’re hopeful that now in response to the material that we provided them with that they will re-examine and perhaps open it back up.”

The now-former West Valley City Police spokesman Capt. Sandquist recently said the department’s administrative and internal-affairs investigations into the shooting remain open. He said the department is waiting for undisclosed “testing results” before it closes the case. Until then, he said the department won’t discuss the matter. He confirmed that Ward is back to work.

Given her attorneys’ findings, Chanhda Ousa is alarmed to know Ward could be back on the streets. “He’s a ticking time bomb waiting to explode,” she says, “like he did that night.”

More than money, the only possible recompense from the family’s federal lawsuit, Steve Ousa wants to see Ward punished for “cold-blooded murdering my dad,” he says. “If I was still in the mindset of gangbanging, I would have went to that dude’s house and waited for him, like he did, and took his life.”

Instead, Steve rests assured the feds will hold Ward and the police department criminally responsible if the shooting and subsequent investigati