Zac Champommier was 18, an honor student and a self-proclaimed “band geek”. He had recently graduated high school and was preparing to enter college in a few months. On the night of June 24th he went to meet a new friend and see a movie. They were to meet in a Studio City parking lot, behind Chipotle Grill. But when Zac showed up, he saw his friend being rushed by a group of seemingly-aggressive men.
What Zac didn’t know at the time was the group of men confronting his friend, Douglas Ryan Oeters, were all law enforcement. The officers, including members of the LAPD, DEA, and LA County Sheriff’s Department, had just executed a search warrant and were hanging out in the parking lot “debriefing”. According to the officers, they saw Oeters walking around the lot, looking in cars, and believed he was casing them for theft. Oeters contends he did look in a white car because he thought Zac had beat him to the lot. He looked in one white car and was headed towards Zac’s when he was confronted.
With eerie similarities to the DJ Henry case, officers claim Zac plowed toward them, intentionally and maliciously hitting one deputy with his car. Oeters says that’s not how it happened at all. People who knew Zac similarly state that it would have been way outside of his character to go towards the confrontation. He would have been far more likely to leave and call 911. Oeters states “somehow an agent got in the way between him (Zac) and the exit…it did not appear as if he was there to hurt anyone. He was not driving very fast.”
Despite this account and the unlikelihood that Zac would’ve been able to gain any significant speed in the parking lot, at least one report from the Sherriff’s Department claims Zac had sped toward the group, intentionally striking the officer sending him up into the air, on to the hood, and then the ground. Both the deputy who was hit and one DEA agent opened fire.
Currently, the investigation is sitting in front of the LA District Attorney’s Office Justice System Integrity Division, having been investigated by the LA County Sheriff’s Department. Yes, the same department whose deputy fired shots at the scene. Head Deputy Sergio Gonzales is reviewing the case for criminal violations on the part of the law enforcement involved. Sheriff Lee Baca has said early on that there was no indication that any of the officers acted improperly, hardly an unbiased foundation for the investigation to arise from.
Carol Champommier is a mother in mourning and a mother on a mission. She has repeatedly been given the run around from all three agencies involved. The Sherriff’s Department refuses to share their report with her; the DEA doesn’t return her attempts to contact them; and Chief Beck of the LAPD vowed to her they would investigate (in August) and never contacted her again. Show support for her cause and transparency in the case by signing the petition below.
Photo courtesy Champommier Family
Anytime there are multiple agencies involved, finding someone to talk is difficult. There’s a level of brotherhood between the agencies, each sheltering each other, which serves to undermine the public’s trust in law enforcement when taken to this extreme. Carol Champommier deserves to know what happened that night and reports of the incident should be granted to her.
In addition to providing Zac’s mother with the reports of her son’s death, I ask that meaningful steps be taken to show accountability. What happened that night was preventable. And future similar cases are still preventable. Please take steps to ensure this same tragedy doesn’t befall another and come forward to tell the public and Zac’s family and supporters exactly how future “misunderstandings” will be avoided.
Finally, I ask this investigation be reviewed with the upmost fairness. The investigation before the LA County District Attorney’s Office was conducted by the very agencies who were there that night—the very same agencies responsible for Zac’s death. How this can be unbiased, I am not sure. However, as the top law enforcement in the County, I ask the District Attorney’s Justice System Integrity Division to act with real integrity, keeping in mind that the people who present their investigation have a vested interest in displaying facts that support their version of events.
Zac’s mother, family, and supporters, as well as the public at large should be able to trust the agencies they pay to protect them and to enforce law and order in their communities. To each of you whom this letter reaches, you play a crucial role in that maintaining that relationship. When such business occurs behind closed doors with no transparency, you stand to lose trust and respect. Responsibility and accountability for Zac’s death must be shown and it needs to start with you.
Thank you for your immediate attention.