Reversing course, LAPD releases video of fatal police shooting
October 4, 2016
Los Angeles police released a security video of the chase that lead up to the fatal police shooting of an 18-year-old in South L.A. over the weekend.
The video shows a young man in a blue sweatshirt, who police say is Carnell Snell Jr., running through a strip mall and behind parked vehicles holding what appears to be a handgun in his left hand.
The young man then crouches and appears to tuck the handgun into his sweatpants before running away from the camera. Moments later, a police officer is seen running in Snell’s direction.
Police Chief Charlie Beck told The Times that he and Mayor Eric Garcetti spoke at length about the issue and decided to release the video to correct what the chief described as competing accounts about Saturday’s shooting.
“My huge concern is that the dueling narratives further divide the community,” Beck said.
The tape was taken from a nearby business, and Beck said the recording shows Snell running with a gun in his hand. Many residents have questioned the police account, including whether Snell had a gun.
The tape’s release comes as the LAPD is trying to quell protests sparked by the shooting of Snell, who was killed on 107th Street. A day later, police fatally shot another man in South L.A.
Beck, along with other law enforcement leaders, has said he generally opposes releasing body camera footage, expressing concerns about violating privacy and possibly interfering with investigations.
But amid growing scrutiny of police shootings, law enforcement agencies are under pressure to release videos of deadly encounters. Last week, officials in San Diego County originally said they would not immediately release video of a fatal shooting by El Cajon police, but they reversed course after days of protests. Police in Charlotte, N.C., released footage of a fatal shooting there amid protests.
The shooting of Snell became the latest local touchstone in the national debate about policing and how officers use force, particularly against African Americans.
Beck told reporters Monday that officers were working near 108th Street and Western Avenue about 1 p.m. when they spotted a light blue Nissan that had paper plates. The plates didn’t match the year of the car, Beck said, causing officers to think it may have been stolen.
As the officers watched the vehicle, Snell, sitting in the back seat, looked toward them, then ducked “as if to hide from them," Beck said.
He said officers started to follow the car, which slowed down. As officers activated their lights and sirens, he said, the car slowed more and Snell got out, “holding his waistband as if he was supporting something.”
Thinking Snell was holding a gun, the officers chased him, Beck said. At some point during the 200- to 300-yard pursuit, the chief said, the officers saw Snell pull out a gun and hold it in his left hand.
They chased him to a driveway in the 1700 block of 107th Street, where Snell turned toward them, Beck said, the gun still in his hand. Police opened fire.
Snell died at the scene.
Beck said a .40-caliber handgun was found “no more than 5 feet away” from Snell’s body. The gun was fully loaded, Beck said, indicating it wasn’t fired.
The officers did not have body cameras, the chief said, but a video from a nearby business “clearly shows” Snell running with the gun in his hand.
Beck acknowledged the anger surrounding the weekend’s shootings an“We have all seen police-involved shootings that defy justification in other municipalities. I have seen them where I am at a loss to understand why,” he said. “I think that affects what happens on the streets of Los Angeles.”After Snell’s death, scores of people gathered near where he was shot. Some shouted profanities at officers. One man complained about police helicopters and sirens keeping him up at night. Others said they were tired of being repeatedly stopped by officers — “they don’t do that in Beverly Hills,” one man said.Graffiti covered buildings near the intersection. “Rest well Carnell,” one message read.
“LAPD” was written next to his name, the letters crossed out with an X.On Sunday, during a second night of protests, news spread of another deadly police shooting in South L.A. Coroner’s officials have not yet identified the person killed, described by police as a man between the ages of 18 and 22.About 5 p.m., gang enforcement officers were investigating a report of a man with a gun near 48th Street and Ascot Avenue.
The officers spotted someone matching his description and began to approach the person, Beck said.The man then turned and pointed a handgun at the officers, the chief said, prompting police to open fire. Paramedics took the man to a hospital, where he died.The gun, Beck said, turned out to be a replica weapon, with its orange tip covered by black paint or pen.Those officers were wearing body cameras, Beck said. The chief watched the video Monday morning, saying it “clearly supports” the officers’ accounts. Beck said he had not made a decision on whether to release that footage.
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