Crime & Justice

Protests erupt after LAPD releases surveillance video of fatal police shooting

Lisa Simpson is the mother of Richard Risher, 18, who was fatally shot by LAPD officers in Watts this summer after allegedly pointing a gun at them. She protested outside Los Angeles Police Headquarters in downtown L.A. on October 4, 2016.
Lisa Simpson is the mother of Richard Risher, 18, who was fatally shot by LAPD officers in Watts this summer after allegedly pointing a gun at them. She protested outside Los Angeles Police Headquarters in downtown L.A. on October 4, 2016.
Frank Stoltze/ KPCC
Lisa Simpson is the mother of Richard Risher, 18, who was fatally shot by LAPD officers in Watts this summer after allegedly pointing a gun at them. She protested outside Los Angeles Police Headquarters in downtown L.A. on October 4, 2016.
Black Lives Matter protesters shut down the weekly meeting of the Los Angeles Police Commission.
Frank Stoltze/ KPCC
Lisa Simpson is the mother of Richard Risher, 18, who was fatally shot by LAPD officers in Watts this summer after allegedly pointing a gun at them. She protested outside Los Angeles Police Headquarters in downtown L.A. on October 4, 2016.
Black Lives Matter protesters gather in a circle outside LAPD headquarters after shutting down the weekly meeting of the Police Commission to protest the fatal shooting by police of Carnell Snell Jr. Police say he had a gun in his hand and was turning toward officers when they opened fire.
Frank Stoltze/KPCC
Lisa Simpson is the mother of Richard Risher, 18, who was fatally shot by LAPD officers in Watts this summer after allegedly pointing a gun at them. She protested outside Los Angeles Police Headquarters in downtown L.A. on October 4, 2016.
In a screenshot from a security camera video released by the Los Angeles Police Department, a man can be seen holding what appears to be a handgun in his left hand.
Courtesy of LAPD
Lisa Simpson is the mother of Richard Risher, 18, who was fatally shot by LAPD officers in Watts this summer after allegedly pointing a gun at them. She protested outside Los Angeles Police Headquarters in downtown L.A. on October 4, 2016.
A photo of a handgun that was found next to the body of Carnell Snell Jr., a man who was fatally shot by police, is displayed during a news conference at Los Angeles police headquarters in Los Angeles on Monday, Oct. 3, 2016. Police Chief Charlie Beck said on Monday that Snell Jr., who was fatally shot during the weekend foot pursuit was holding the loaded semiautomatic gun in one hand and turned toward officers.
Nick Ut/AP


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Video released Tuesday shows a black man killed by Los Angeles police was armed just before he was shot dead but the footage failed to capture him when officers say he twice turned toward them holding the loaded semi-automatic handgun.

The video shows the man identified by police as 18-year-old Carnell Snell crouching behind an SUV parked at a strip mall and pulling a handgun from the waistband of his sweatpants.

Snell then tucks the gun back into his waistband and runs around the corner of a strip mall as officers chase him. All then disappear from view because they were no longer within the range of the surveillance camera.

Video

Snell's shooting Saturday came amid heightened tensions over police actions involving black people and other minorities across the country. Snell was the third black man in five days killed in confrontations with Southern California police.

Police said the video — posted to the police department's YouTube channel following pressure by protesters to release it — supports the account LAPD Chief Charlie Beck gave defending the shooting.

Beck said the video showed Snell had an opportunity to get rid of the gun but decided to keep it when he ran around a corner of the strip mall, disappearing from the footage that showed two officers running after him.

"Obviously if you're not seeking confrontation why wouldn't you just discard the weapon?" Beck said.

After Snell ran around the mall's corner and out of range of the camera, he sprinted between two houses and turned toward officers while holding the gun, Beck said.

Officers fired three shots that missed Snell, who then climbed a fence and turned again toward the officers while holding the gun, Beck said. Police fired three more times, hitting Snell in the torso and knee.

Black Lives Matter protesters demonstrate inside the Board of Police Commissioners meeting in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. Los Angeles police released surveillance video Tuesday showing an 18-year-old black suspect running from police while holding what appears to be a gun in his left hand just before he was fatally shot by officers in a death that has generated rowdy protests.
Black Lives Matter protesters demonstrate inside the Board of Police Commissioners meeting in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. Los Angeles police released surveillance video Tuesday showing an 18-year-old black suspect running from police while holding what appears to be a gun in his left hand just before he was fatally shot by officers in a death that has generated rowdy protests.
Nick Ut/AP

The video showing the moments leading up to the shooting was made public just as Black Lives Matter organizers gathered Tuesday morning to protest Snell's killing at a meeting of the Los Angeles Police Commission.

Demonstrators at the civilian oversight board's meeting continuously disrupted Beck and commission members with expletives and insults and ignored repeated requests to maintain order. 

Lisa Simpson, mother of another 18-year-old black man killed by LAPD officers allegedly for shooting at them in Watts, turned toward some of the officers in the room as she spoke.
 
“So I want to kill a few of ya’ll," she said. "And I ain’t scared to say it. I’m going to tell it to your face.” 

The comment prompted Commissioner Cynthia McClain-Hill to speak with protesteors after the meeting.
 
“You make me want to cry when you applaud the idea that we should take up arms and shoot others," she said.
 
"That’s what you’re doing to us,” several people in the crowd shouted, referring to police shootings.

One police official said they would assess any threat of violence from the group, as they would with any other. No arrests were made but the meeting was closed to the public after protesters refused to stop chanting, "Black lives, they matter here!"

At one point during the meeting, protesters turned their backs on Beck and the commissioners.

Protester Melina Abdullah accused police of selectively releasing a portion of video of Snell's shooting to "posthumously assassinate" his character.

"I don't care if he had a gun," she shouted. "His life matters."

Members of Black Lives Matter said the video was unconvincing because it didn't show the moment officers shot Snell.

“You’re trying to assassinate the character of Carnell Snell after you assassinated his body," said Melina Abdullah.

While she dismissed the video, Abdullah called for the release of all police videos of officer involved shootings.

The LAPD typically releases video of police shootings only when ordered to do so by courts. Beck told reporters the Snell video was released in the interest of public safety and to correct misinformation.

Commission President Matthew Johnson said he plans to recommend the panel reconsider the LAPD's policy of not releasing videos.

"This is not done in any way to denigrate Mr. Snell," he said.

Asked whether he thought the video would ease anger among protesters, he said "there are folks that will not believe any narrative" presented by police.

"I think that this video is not for them, the folks that are going to find holes in whatever I present to them," he said. "Unless they were physically present they are not going to believe the police's point of view on this."

Mayor Eric Garcetti, who helped decide to release the video, said in a statement that doing so "contributes to transparency in a case that has raised many hard questions."

The police pursuit of Snell began when officers tried to pull over a car he was in because it had temporary paper license plates that did not match the year of the vehicle. Beck has said that was a possible indication of a stolen car and something commonly seen in vehicles used in drive-by shootings.

Snell, seated in the car's back seat, looked at officers and then ducked down "as if to hide from them" shortly before he jumped out of the car and ran, Beck said.

Los Angeles police last weekend also shot dead an unidentified Hispanic man. Beck said the man pointed a replica that looked like a real gun at police and officers opened fire because they feared for their lives.

This story has been updated.