A man accused of participating in a shootout with police that led to the accidental death of an assistant manager of a Trader Joe’s market in Silver Lake has been found competent to stand trial.
Gene Evin Atkins, 31, has pleaded not guilty and not guilty to murder insanity in the murder of Melyda Corado in July 2018.
The bullet that killed Corado, 27, was fired by Los Angeles police officers, who shot Atkins as he fled into the store after a car chase. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office declined to press charges.
Officers had chased Atkins through town, and he had shot them several times during the chase, which police said began after he shot his grandmother.
Atkins crashed his car into a lamppost outside Trader Joe’s and fired three shots at LAPD officers Sinlen Tse and Sarah Winans, according to a memorandum. Tse and Winans fired back, with eight hits in total. A bullet hit Atkins in the elbow, the document said. Another Corado fatally injured.
Prosecutors ruled that officers were reacting to Atkins’ provocations. Atkins, not the officers, was “criminally responsible for Corado’s death,” prosecutors wrote in their decision. The decision came after the city’s police commission and Chief Michel Moore ruled that the officers’ actions were in line with policy.
Corado’s family sued the town, alleging negligence and excessive force; the case is pending. His older brother Albert said he believed the LAPD was at fault and was trying to blame his sister’s death on Atkins, who faces a slew of other criminal charges related to the incident .
“What’s still overwhelming about this whole situation is that the LAPD is trying to shed its guilt and put it all on Gene Atkins,” he said.
Among more than 50 criminal counts, Atkins faces charges of attempted murder, attempted murder of an officer, assault on a peace officer with a semi-automatic firearm, kidnapping, escape from a prosecuting officer’s motor vehicle while driving recklessly, grand auto theft, release of a gun with gross negligence, false imprisonment of a hostage and chaos.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lisa Lench has scheduled a preliminary hearing for July 22.
City News Service contributed to this report.