How did an 80-year-old man end up shot to death in his own bed by Los Angeles County deputy sheriffs? Reason’s Zach Weissmuller takes an in-depth look at the death of Eugene Mallory, who died in a hail of bullets triggered by supposedly challenging the deputies with a gun in the hallway of his own home during a meth raid. Only Mallory didn’t get shot in the hallway — he got shot in his bedroom, and the bullets came before the deputy warned him to put his gun down. Did Mallory pick up the gun at all? And what were deputies doing by raiding the house in the first place? Mallory’s widow wants answers:
Deputies approached the house, and what happened next is where things get murky. The deputies said they announced their presence upon entering and were met in the hallway by the 80-year-old man, wielding a gun and stumbling towards them. The deputies later changed the story when the massive bloodstains on Mallory’s mattress indicated to investigators that he’d most likely been in bed at the time of the shooting. Investigators also found that an audio recording of the incident revealed a discrepancy in the deputies’ original narrative:
Before listening to the audio recording, [Sgt. John] Bones believed that he told Mallory to “Drop the gun” prior to the shooting. The recording revealed, however, that his commands to “Drop the gun” occurred immediately after the shooting.
When it was all over, Eugene Mallory died of six gunshot wounds from Sgt. John Bones’ MP-5 9mm submachine gun. When a coroner arrived, he found the loaded .22 caliber pistol the two deputies claimed Mallory had pointed at them on the bedside table.
Mallory had not fired a single shot. The raid turned up no evidence of methamphetamine on the property.
The raid was conducted on the strength of a confidential informant and an investigator who claimed to have detected a “strong chemical odor” while downwind of the house. That apparently justified a military-style raid on the property, even though Mallory had no criminal history, let alone any indication of violence. Why not have Pate let them in and get Mallory out of bed to conduct their search?
This case demands some answers — and some changes, too.