Saturday 24 March 2018

Video shows US police shooting victim 'running with gun in hand'

Protesters demand the firing of Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck over the shooting of a black man over the weekend (AP)
Protesters demand the firing of Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck over the shooting of a black man over the weekend (AP)

Los Angeles police have released surveillance video showing an 18-year-old black suspect running from police while holding what appears to be a gun moments before he was fatally shot by officers.

Footage of the moments leading up to the killing of Carnell Snell shows a man crouching behind a car and pulling a handgun from his waistband.

He then tucks the gun back into his waistband and runs around the corner of a strip mall as officers chase after him.

The footage posted to the police department's YouTube channel does not show officers shoot Mr Snell, but police said the video supports the account police chief Charlie Beck gave on Monday justifying the shooting.

Mr Beck said Mr Snell had a fully loaded semi-automatic handgun in one hand and turned toward officers when they fired at him on Saturday. Protesters had demanded the release of the video.

An LAPD statement said: "While the Los Angeles Police Department has a long standing practice of not releasing video evidence pending administrative and criminal investigations, the chief is exercising his discretion to release video in the interest of public safety."

The video was made public just as Black Lives Matter organisers gathered to protest over Mr Snell's killing at a meeting of the Los Angeles Police Commission. The board of civilian overseers convened as demonstrators interrupted speakers and shouted for Mr Beck's resignation.

The 45-second clip is the only surveillance footage connected to the shooting, though detectives are searching for more, according to Officer Sal Ramirez, a police spokesman. He declined comment on exactly when Mr Snell was shot.

Officers tried to pull over a car Mr Snell was in because it had temporary paper licence plates which did not match the year of the vehicle. Mr Beck said that was a possible indication to officers of a stolen car, and something commonly seen in vehicles used by criminals for drive-by shootings.

Mr Snell, seated in the car's back seat, looked at officers and then ducked down "as if to hide from them," Mr Beck said.

When officers tried to pull the car over, Mr Snell jumped out holding his waistband and police pursued on foot.

After police chased Mr Snell for several hundred yards, he is alleged to have taken a gun from his waistband and turned in the direction of the pursuing officers, prompting the shooting.

The chief also addressed the fatal shooting over the weekend of an unidentified Hispanic man, saying that the man pointed a replica that looked like a real gun at police, an d officers opened fire because they feared for their lives.

The shootings come amid heightened tensions over police actions involving black people and other minorities across the country.

Mr Snell is the third black man in five days to die in confrontations with police in Southern California.

Last Tuesday, Alfred Olango was fatally shot by an officer in the San Diego suburb of El Cajon when he took a "shooting stance" and pointed what turned out to be a 4in vape pen - an electronic cigarette device - at an officer.

On Friday, Reginald Thomas died after being shot with a Taser by police in Pasadena. He was armed with a knife and was described by family members as mentally ill.

Meanwhile, the family of a black man killed by police in Sacramento in July demanded murder charges against two officers heard on a dash-cam video talking about trying to hit the man with their police cruiser before he was shot 14 times.


Press Association

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