A newly released cellphone video (below) shows several Los Angeles County Sheriff deputies shooting and killing John Berry, an unarmed man who suffered from schizophrenia, in Lakewood, California, on July 6.
In the video of the incident filmed by a neighbor, deputies try to get John out of his car, but he refuses. Moments later, John backs his car up, and the deputies fire a hail of bullets.
John's brother Chris Berry, a federal police officer, told the Los Angeles Times that he called the Lakewood sheriff's station and requested a mental evaluation team, but was told that deputies were coming instead.
According to Chris, the deputies arrived and aggressively used pepper spray, a Taser and batons on his brother.
Chris added: "They said he accelerated and crashed into the police car. That did not happen, I was there for the whole thing. But they have to say that because it justifies their aggressive actions … I believe in my heart and I know Johnny wasn't trying to hurt them."
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies claim that they tried using Tasers and pepper spray on John (who had not committed any crimes), but none of their tactics was working, notes KABC.
The deputies claimed that Berry used his car to pin a deputy between his vehicle and another deputy's vehicle, causing the deputy to suffer injuries that required hospitalization; a claim that the Berry family disputes.
The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department issued a statement after the shooting: "Fearing for the deputy's life, the assisting deputies fired at the suspect," notes The Los Angeles Times.
The Berry family has filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles County and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for negligence, assault and battery and civil rights violations, reports KTLA.
“He was unarmed, didn’t do anything wrong, hadn’t violated any laws, wasn’t a danger to anybody," the Berry's family attorney, Steve Carlson, told KABC.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Nicole Nishida said in a statement today:
The video, while it shows only a portion of the incident, is consistent with other information developed during the investigation.
As deputies attempted to remove the suspect from his vehicle, he continued his attempts to operate the vehicle, placing at least one deputy's life in immediate danger. That is when the shooting occurred.