A federal judge ordered the release of dash cam footage showing California police fatally shooting an unarmed man from several feet away in 2013.
The city of Gardena recently paid $4.7 million to settle a lawsuit with the family of the deceased and another man who was injured. US District Judge Stephen V. Wilson thought local residents deserved to see where their taxpayer money was going.
On June 2, 2013, the brother of 35-year-old Ricardo Diaz Zeferino had his bike stolen from outside a CVS, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Responding officers were mistakenly told a robbery had taken place, and that might have given the impression they were dealing with dangerous individuals.
They arrived to see two men riding bikes near the pharmacy and assumed they were criminals, even though they were really friends of Diaz Zeferino's brother and were helping him look for the bike.
Diaz Zeferino intervened as soon as police rounded up the two men, presumably to inform the officers of their mistake. Police ordered Diaz Zeferino to keep his hands up, but he appears to have reached into his waistband, according to ABC-7.
Believing he was about to pull out a gun, three officers opened fire and shot Diaz Zeferino eight times. Diaz Zeferino did not survive.
The other man shot, Eutiquio Acevedo Mendez, was hit once, but he since recovered.
The Los Angeles County district attorney declined to charge any of the officers because Diaz Zeferino, who was drunk at the time and had methamphetamine in his system, didn't obey their orders and concealed his hand from officers just before the shooting.
But attorneys representing Diaz Zeferino's family said the deceased only failed to keep his hands raised because the officers' orders were significantly unclear, according to YouTube video posted by the Times.
Gardena Police Chief Ed Medrano called the shooting “tragic for all involved" in a statement released on Tuesday.
We have thoroughly reviewed our response and have initiated new training, including the tactical use of cover techniques to slow down fast-moving events.
Wilson's choice to release the video overrides a request from the city of Gardena to keep all evidence from the shooting hidden.