A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the release of a video (watch it above) that shows Gardena, California, police officers fatally shooting an unarmed man in 2013.
Ricardo Diaz-Zeferino was killed when officers, who say he didn’t obey officers orders to stay still with his hands in the air, opened fire on June 2, 2013, according to the Associated Press. Police said the officers believed Zeferino was reaching for a weapon when they fired on him. Three officers fired the shots.
The shooting was captured on a dashboard cameras in police vehicles. The officers who fired the fatal shots, Christopher Mendez, Christopher Sanderson and Matthew Toda, were not charged in the shooting, but Diaz-Zeferino’s family, and another man wounded in the shooting, settled a $4.7 million lawsuit with the city.
“The fact that they spent the city’s money, presumably derived from taxes, only strengthens the public’s interest in seeing the videos,” Judge Stephen Wilson said in his decision. “Moreover, defendants cannot assert a valid compelling interest in sealing the videos to cover up any wrongdoing on their part or to shield themselves from embarrassment.”
The Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times and Bloomberg fought for the release of the videos.
According to the Los Angeles Times, police were investigating the theft of a bicycle that was taken from outside a drugstore. The officers were mistakenly told by their dispatcher that the bike was stolen in a robbery, which includes theft by force and/or involving weapons.
As the officers were searching the area near the drug store, they saw two men, who they thought were the suspects. They were actually friends of the victim and were helping to look for the bike. Diaz-Zeferino, who was the brother of the man whose bike was stolen, then ran up to the two men as they stood near a police car, according to the Times. Friends said Diaz-Zeferino was trying to explain they had the wrong people.
In the videos, officers can be seen approaching the three men with their gun drawn as they stand on the sidewalk over two bicycles. The men have their hands raised. Diaz-Zeferino steps in front of the other two men and briefly drops his hands below his waist as the officers yell at him. He raises his hands back above his head and then removes his hat, dropping his hands back down to his sides.
The officers then begin firing at Diaz-Zeferino several times.
Another angle shows Diaz-Zeferino talking to the officers. He appears to be motioning to them as one of the officers yells “get your hands up!”
Diaz-Zeferino and a man standing behind him can be seen being struck by the bullets and then dropping to the sidewalk.