LAPD rookie officer Toni McBride, 23, is facing additional scrutiny following an apparent self-defense shooting because of her background as a competitive shooter. A legacy cop, McBride is also a social media influencer tied to Taran Tactical and has a sizeable audience. She joined the LAPD in 2017.
McBride shot and killed Daniel Hernandez, who was 38, after he approached her with a box cutter and refused multiple orders to drop the knife. She and her partner were responding to a 911 call about a car accident resulting in multiple injured parties.
Several bystanders called 911 on April 22 earlier this year to report the incident involving the suspect’s truck and five other vehicles. One caller said he was suicidal, cutting and stabbing himself in the truck.
McBride’s bodycam recorded the shooting and shows Hernandez clearly approaching her and her partner, bare-chested holding the knife. She yelled “Drop the knife!” three times and when he refused and continued to approach, she shot him twice and he fell down.
Hernandez then tried to get back up, still holding the knife, so McBride shot him four more times. She hit all six times. Emergency services pronounced Hernandez dead at the scene.
Now her critics are saying she shot the man because she is a competitive shooter. She is also facing wrongful death lawsuits filed on behalf of Hernadez’s family and daughter who is 14.
Hernandez’s family and attorneys argue that McBride was “set to kill” and didn’t attempt to de-escalate the situation.
“There was no attempt to deescalate whatsoever,” said Marina Vergara, Hernandez’s sister. “I wasn’t there that day, I don’t know what happened,” she said. “The only thing I do know is that my brother was a loving person.”
McBride and her team, along with other officers and use of force continuum experts say that it was a “by the book” self-defense shooting.
“She felt very bad when she had to take a life, but she did it to preserve her life and the surrounding citizens that were there,” said her attorney Larry Hanna. Hanna specializes in officer-involved shooting cases.
McBride’s now-private social media posts show her training with Taran Tactical. An officer and spokeswoman for the famous practical shooting training company, McBride shared many videos of her shooting skills.
“When I’m shooting I have to be in that mindset of you know what, this isn’t a metal target in front of me,” McBride told L.A. Magazine last year. “This is a suspect who has a knife, potentially to a victim’s throat. This is a suspect who is holding a gun at my partner right now.”
“For me I’m always putting myself in that mindset, because if I am put in a position in real life where that opportunity—or like that situation I should say—were to come, I need to know for myself ‘Hey you know what, I’ve been training like insane,” she explained. “I know I can take this shot, just so that I can stop the threat.'”
Now those words are being held against her, along with her family ties to the LAPD. McBride’s father was a patrol officer with the LAPD and now sits on the board of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, or LAPPL.