A California dad said he has received death threats after social media posts falsely identified him as a suspect in the weekend ambush shooting of two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies, according to a new report.
Following the Saturday night shooting of the male and female officer inside their patrol car in Compton, social media posts circulated that identified Darnell Hicks as a possible suspect — calling him “armed and dangerous,” KTLA 5 reported.
The posts included Hicks’ driver’s license photo, address and license plate number.
Hicks, also a youth football coach, said he was out dirt-biking all day Saturday, but people “put my face out there real fast.” He initially thought he was being pranked when people he knew started sending him the “be on the lookout” post.
But then he realized it was no joke.
“You know, I have two daughters,” Hicks told the station. “I don’t even feel safe taking them out no more now.”
Hicks, of Compton, added that the misidentification has also affected his livelihood.
“I’ve got my own clothing line. I do a lot of business on my own,” Hicks said. “People [are] looking at me differently now.”
Currently, there is a social media post that is being circulated which identifies a male out of the Los Angeles area as the suspect responsible for the ambush of our 2 deputies yesterday. This is ERRONEOUS information and there are no named or wanted suspects at this time.
In a Sunday tweet, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said the posts — which were gaining traction — were “erroneous.”
“There was some bad information floating around yesterday about a suspect,” Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in a Monday briefing, according to the local station. “All that information is false.”
Hicks’ attorney, Brian Dunn with the Cochran Firm, claimed the damage is already done for his client, who “has no connection whatsoever” to the shooting.
“Any person would suffer greatly when falsely accused of a crime, especially a crime as heinous as this,” Dunn said.
Shortly after the shooting, authorities described the suspect only as a “dark-skinned male.”
“He simply has been thrown into this pit, for … nothing other than the color of his skin,” Dunn said of Hicks.
“There has been a complete blackout in terms of the information, where it has come from,” he added. “Nobody has taken responsibility for it.”
Hicks said his prayers are with the deputies — Claudia Apolinar, 31, and her partner, 24, who were both shot at close range while sitting inside their patrol car in a chilling caught-on-video ambush. Apolinar made a tourniquet for her partner before medics arrived.
Both deputies are out of surgery and are expected to survive in what Villanueva called “a double miracle.”