Police in a city near San Diego responding to a report of a person acting erratically fatally shot a black man Tuesday after he pulled something from his pocket and took “a shooting stance,” authorities said.
The shooting came as tension is still lingering in Charlotte over a deadly police shooting there a week earlier, which sparked a renewed focus nationwide on how officers use deadly force.
The man fatally shot Tuesday in El Cajon, Calif., who has not been identified by police, initially “refused multiple instructions by the first officer on the scene and concealed his hand in his pants pocket,” Jeff Davis, the city’s chief of police, said during a news conference.
A second officer responded and prepared to use a Taser to stun the man, who was pacing while officers spoke to him, Davis said.
“At one point, the male rapidly drew an object from his front pants pocket, placed both hands together on it and extended it rapidly towards the officer, taking what appeared to be a shooting stance, putting the object in the officer’s face,” Davis said.
The officer with a Taser deployed that device to try and subdue the man, while “simultaneously, the officer who had the object pointed at him” fired his gun, hitting the same man, Davis said.
Police say the man was struck multiple times. He was given first aid at the shooting scene before being taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police say.
El Cajon is a city of about 103,000 residents, most of them white, located 15 miles east of San Diego. When police responded just after 2 p.m. Tuesday afternoon to the area behind a Los Ponchos Mexican restaurant in a strip mall, they were called about a man “not acting like himself,” the department said in a statement.
Police also released an image they said was a frame from a video being reviewed by investigators, which appears to show the man in a parking lot with his arms forward, hands clasped, while two officers face him with weapons drawn.
The two officers, who have not been named by police, have been placed on three-day administrative leave.
A crowd gathered in the parking lot to protest the shooting, which comes on the heels of police officers fatally shooting black men in Tulsa, Okla., and Charlotte. The deadly shooting in Charlotte, almost exactly a week before the El Cajon shooting, has prompting heated demonstrations and rioting.
Police have not said what the object was that the man pulled from his pants in El Cajon, but Davis said it was not a gun.
Family members of the man who was shot told the San Diego Union-Tribune that he suffered from mental illness.
Mental health issues are a factor in about a quarter of fatal police shootings, according to a Washington Post database tracking such incidents nationwide. The man in El Cajon was at least the 716th person shot and killed by police, and if it turns out he was suffering from mental illness, he would be the 173rd person in the database where such issues were reported.
Police are on pace to fatally shoot about the same number of people this year as last year, when officers shot and killed nearly 1,000 people. People with reported mental health issues account for about one in four of the fatal shootings this year, the same share as last year.
These shootings have highlighted what experts say is an issue involving how often police are called to respond to people having mental or emotional crises — and whether their training adequately prepares them for such calls.
In most cases last year where people with reported mental illnesses were fatally shot by police, these people were armed but were not shot by officers responding to reports of crimes. Instead, officers were often called by relatives or bystanders worried about the person behaving erratically, a number that last year included dozens of explicitly suicidal people.
A Los Ponchos employee reportedly caught the shooting on a cellphone video, which the worker turned over to police.
Video of the immediate aftermath of the shooting was uploaded to Facebook Live by Rumbie Mubaiwa. The footage shows a woman, reportedly the sister of the victim, wailing uncontrollably and repeating the phrase, “You just killed my brother,” “They killed my brother,” and “You guys just killed my brother in front of me.”
“I called you to help me, but you killed my brother,” the sister said.
“They didn’t even tell her if his brother was still alive,” Mubaiwa said on the video.
In a recorded interview with KNSD, Michael Rodriguez, who claimed to be 15 to 20 feet away from the shooting, said, “I see a black male coming out with his hands up.”
According to Rodriguez, three officers approached the man. When he attempted to run, Rodriguez said, they fired five shots into his torso.
But the man’s sister told KNSD that her brother wasn’t showing his hands to police and wasn’t complying with the police’s orders.
In May, the El Cajon police department announced it would be outfitting its officers with body cameras, but this program has not yet been implemented and was planned to start next year.
Police said in a message on Twitter that the video provided to authorities showed that the man’s hands were not raised in the air when he was shot:
Witnesses originally reported that police confiscated cellphones from those in the area, which prompted the San Diego ACLU to release a statement which read, in part:
… by seizing phones, police would likely be preventing the dissemination of video captured by bystanders. The public has the right to film police in public places, and police officers may not confiscate or demand to view your digital photos or video without a warrant. Under no circumstances may police officers delete your photos or videos.
Police denied the suggestion that phones were seized in a tweet. And during his news conference, Davis again emphasized that the cellphone video given to officers was handed over voluntarily.
“That witness voluntarily provided the telephone cellphone video to the police department, giving written…consent to the officers to view the video,” Davis said. “And in fact, she gave us the code to her cellphone to unlock it to get the video.”
Davis said this was the only cellphone footage provided to officers and again said no phones were taken from any people.
A crowd began gathering in the parking lot of the restaurant on Tuesday afternoon and remained there later in the evening.
Video taken at the scene shows protesters chanting “black lives matter” and “hands up, don’t shoot.”
At some point in the evening, the crowd formed a prayer circle.
Date Posted: Wednesday, September 28th, 2016 , Total Page Views: 5341
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