California Judge Orders Release Of Video Showing Three Police Officers Fatally Shooting Unarmed Latino Man

| by Reuters

A federal judge has ordered the release of a video showing three Los Angeles-area police officers fatally shooting an unarmed man in 2013, saying the public had the right to review the footage.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson said he saw no reason not to release the video after the city of Gardena, 15 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, paid victim Ricardo Diaz Zeferino's family what local media reported was a $4.7 million settlement.

As taxpayers were footing the bill, they had a right to see the footage, Wilson said on Tuesday.

Attorneys for Zeferino's relatives and several media outlets had pushed for the video's release amid a national debate over police use of force following a string of fatal shootings of unarmed black and Latino men.

Zeferino, 35, and two friends were stopped by Gardena police on the night of June 2, 2013, as officers responded to a call about a stolen bicycle, according to court records.

The bicycle belonged to Zeferino's brother, and Zeferino was trying to find it when he was stopped, the records said.

In grainy dashcam video, officers can be heard yelling at Zeferino to keep his hands up as he moves his arms both up and down. He also takes steps backward and forward as the officers tell him to stand still.

The two other men remain motionless, the video shows.

At one point, Zeferino removes his hat, and three officers open fire, hitting him eight times.

Zeferino was unarmed when he was shot, authorities said. One of his friends was shot in the back and survived.

The shooting was found to be justifiable by the district attorney and the officers involved were not charged.

Gardena officials wanted the video kept private, and in a statement released late on Tuesday Police Chief Ed Medrano said there were "serious privacy concerns as it relates to the release of police videos in general".

"We worry about the implications of this decision and it’s impact on victims and average citizens who are recorded by the police," the statement said.

He said the city intended to appeal Judge Wilson's decision to release the footage.

(By Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Louise Ireland)

Photo credit: steve lyon/Flickr