Sheriff’s Body Cam Video Shows Deputy Fatally Shooting Man
Body camera video released late Friday shows a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy fatally shooting a man as he is jumping over a fence with a gun in his hand in the South Los Angeles neighborhood of Willowbrook earlier this month.
It’s the first ever body camera footage of a shooting involving an L.A. County Sheriff’s deputy.
The Sheriff’s Department only started outfitting deputies with body cameras earlier this month. Sheriff Alex Villanueva has said he hopes the cameras will bring more transparency and build trust in his troubled department.
The Los Angeles Police Department has used body cameras for more than five years.
Like other deputy-involved shootings this summer, the fatal shooting of 25-year-old Fred Williams III on Oct. 16 sparked angry protests and accusations of excessive force.
It began when deputies were patrolling Mona Park around 5:30 p.m. and found Williams standing near a group of people, according to the department. The department has said that Williams began running with a gun, and deputies gave chase. One deputy’s body-worn camera shows him pursuing Williams down a driveway and through a backyard, as a child and two adults scurry inside.
Previously, security camera video showed Williams running around a corner and out of sight, before the deputy opens fire.
The body-worn camera reveals that as the deputy turns the corner, he finds Williams on top of a metal storage shed and jumping over a fence. The deputy opens fire at least seven times, continuing to shoot as Williams is out of sight on the other side of the fence.
“He pointed a gun at me,” the deputy is heard saying into his radio as backup units begin to flood the area.
But the video doesn’t clearly depict Williams pointing the gun at the deputy — something sure to renew accusations that the deputy didn’t have to shoot.
“Its true, you don’t see it directly pointing at the deputy,” said Ed Obayashi, a Plumas County Sheriff’s Deputy who analyzes use of force incidents.
But that doesn’t matter, he said.
“It is absolutely reasonable for this deputy to believe that this individual with a handgun, within a nanosecond, could point that gun at the deputy and shoot him,” Obayashi said.
The department said a loaded Taurus 9mm semi-automatic handgun was recovered at the scene.
The coroner’s office has not released its report, but a case sheet posted on its website lists “Cause A” of Williams’ death as “gunshot wound of back.”
“We are in the very early stages of this investigation,” Sheriff’s Chief Matthew Burson, who heads the Professional Standards Division, explains in an 11-minute video package from the department that includes the body-worn images. “Our understanding of the incident may change as addiitonal evidence is collected.”
He added that the department has not drawn any conclusions about whether the deputy violated policy or the law.
The District Attorney’s office is also investigating the shooting — as it does all police shootings in Los Angeles County. But prosecutions are rare.
A spokesman for the department said Sheriff’s officials had shared the video with Williams’ family before releasing it to the public.
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