‘Tosh.0’ production assistant killed by cops who mistook him for stabbing suspect

Posted at 12:13 PM, Apr 11, 2014
and last updated 2014-04-11 12:23:51-04
Tosh producer

John Winkler, who died after being shot by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies on April 7, 2014, appears in a photo posted on Facebook.

( — An aspiring TV producer was shot and killed Monday by deputies of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in a deadly case of mistaken identity, authorities announced Thursday.

John Winkler, 30, was in an apartment in West Hollywood where authorities say he and two other men were held captive at knifepoint.

“Deputies were told by informants there were only two males residing in the apartment and described the suspect as a male, white, thin build, wearing a black shirt,” a Sheriff’s Department news release states.

Entry team members outside the apartment announced themselves but received no response. That’s when the apartment door suddenly opened and a male rushed out, police said.

“He was covered in blood and bleeding profusely from the neck,” according to the news release.


Authorities responded to a West Hollywood apartment building after a deputy-involved shooting on April 7, 2014. (Credit: KTLA)

At the same time, deputies said, Winkler ran out of the door and lunged at the back of the fleeing victim. Authorities said both of the victims ran directly at the deputies.

Winkler was wearing a black shirt similar to what the suspect was described as wearing, authorities said.

“Believing Winkler was the assailant and the assault was ongoing and he would attack the entry team; three deputies fired their duty weapons at him,” the news release states. Both men were hit by gunfire.

Winkler was taken to a local hospital, where he died from a single gunshot wound. According to the Los Angeles Times, Winkler was a production assistant for the Comedy Central show, “Tosh.0.” CNN has reached out to “Tosh.0,” but the show has not commented at this time.

Once deputies entered the apartment, they said they saw another male victim lying on the living room floor fighting with the suspect, now identified as Alexander McDonald, 27.

McDonald had overpowered the victim and was choking him and tearing at his face, police said.


Los Angeles County Sheriff John Scott addresses the fatal shooting of a West Hollywood man by deputies at a news conference on April 10, 2014. (Credit: KTLA)

“Deputies could see the victim was about to go unconscious and a large knife was on the floor near them. The deputies were able to use physical force to subdue the suspect and end the assault,” the release said.

Authorities said they learned that the suspect, in a rage, began stabbing the men and fighting with them once deputies arrived.

One of the victims was a roommate of McDonald, according to deputies. Winkler and the other victim were visiting at the time of the incident, deputies said.

The second victim who ran outside of the apartment just before Winkler was shot was treated for stab wounds to the neck and a gunshot wound to the leg. He is in stable condition.

The third victim was treated for stab wounds to the legs, arms and chest. He has been released from a hospital.

McDonald was treated for minor injuries and released from a hospital. He is in custody, charged with one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of torture. His bail has been set at $4 million.

“I have no doubt the entire Sheriff’s Department mourns the death of John Winkler, none more than the deputies involved,” Los Angeles County Sheriff John Scott said at a news conference Thursday.