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Family Of Man Shot Over 30 Times By Deputies Speaks Out
More details have emerged surrounding the death of a man who was shot over 30 times by deputies in Lynwood over the weekend.
Nicholas Robertson, 28, was shot over 30 times by L.A. County Sheriff's Department deputies on Saturday morning at about 11 a.m. Officials said deputies were responding to 9-1-1 calls of a man with a gun and "shots heard," and that Robertson had fired into the air. A video sent anonymously to KTLA appears to show deputies repeatedly shooting Robertson as he walks, then crawls away from them. Surveillance video from a nearby business released by police shows Robertson holding a gun and wandering into traffic prior to the shooting.
Robertson's family gathered at the gas station yesterday to mourn his death, the L.A. Times reports. Robertson was married to Nekesha Robertson, and the couple had three children: a 7-year-old daughter and a pair of 6-year-old twins. Nekesha said that Robertson was a good father. "Any time you see him, you see him with the kids. He'd take them to and from school. Help them with homework. He's a daddy—that's his job. He didn't do nothing else," she said.
Nekesha said that she had been told by a relative that her husband had been drinking the day he was killed, and that at the time of the shooting, she was out looking for him. She said that Robertson had been arrested before for drinking in the past, and that was the only time he'd ever been jailed. Robertson's arrest records, according to the Times, show one misdemeanor charge from 2008, but the charges are unspecified. Toxicology tests are being done to determine if Robertson was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time.
Sheriff's officials claim Robertson did not listen to their commands that he drop the gun. The deputy that first shoots Robertson does so less than a minute after deputies arrived to the area. One deputy fired 16 times and the other 17 times, for a total of 33 shots fired, according to City News Service. One of the deputies had been with the department for a year and the other a year and a half. Both have been removed from field duty at this time, as the investigation—which Capt. Steve Katz of the Sheriff's Homicide Bureau described as being still in its "infancy" continues. According to Katz, a .45 caliber handgun was found beneath Robertson's body.
Michael Green, a friend of the Robertson family and a minister at Greater Zion Family Church in Compton, told the Times that the situation could have been deescalated. "He wasn't trying to hurt somebody…He didn't deserve to die like that."
His cousin, Monica Reddix, told the Times that Robertson never pointed the gun at the police, and even if he was carrying a gun, "that didn't give them a right to kill him the way you all killed him. Why didn't you all use less-lethal force?"
Katz said in a press conference yesterday that Robertson's gun was "in the direction of the sheriff's deputy," but that Robertson did not point it at them. Some of the footage appears to show Robertson trying to wave the deputies away.
Juan Roberto, who works at a pizza parlor in the area, said that he heard Robertson walked into the restaurant yelling angrily about something, and saw him holding a gun. Roberto said the gun's slide was empty, so he knew there weren't any bullets in the gun. Roberto also said that Robertson was holding the gun even as he crawled away from police.
A woman who was tending her garden in the 3200 block of Palm Avenue, less than half a mile from the gas station, said she'd seen a man firing a gun into the air about a half hour before Robertson's death.
Sheriff Jim McDonnell said that he chose to release the surveillance video and photos because of the heated criticism that has been leveled across police across the nation. In 2015, 1,133 people have been shot and killed by law enforcement in the United States.
"There's going to be criticism any time there's a deputy-involved shooting. We see that, particularly in the past two years or so, the sentiment has been critical. That's why we've come out today: to be as transparent as we can with the information we can share at this time to say, 'Here's what we have,'" McDonnell said yesterday during a press conference.
Some have already compared the shooting of Robertson to that of Laquan McDonald, a black teenager who was shot multiple times by officers as he attempted to flee in 2014. The police officer in that shooting, Jason Van Dyke, was charged with first-degree murder last month. Critics wonder why the deputies fired at Robertson so many times. Ed Obayashi, an Inyo County deputy and attorney, told the Times, "They are going to have to articulate why they made every one of those shots. They must show they reasonably used deadly force."
Anyone who may have additional photos or video of the shooting can contact Sheriff's homicide detectives via 323-890-5500.
Below is the first witness video to emerge after the shooting. Warning: The video is graphic.
This is surveillance video released by authorities. It shows Robertson prior to the shooting as well as the deputies' arrival.
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