An independent autopsy commissioned by the family of a Black man killed by San Bernadino, Calif., police in July determined that the victim was hit in the back seven times by a cop’s bullets.
The Root reported at the time that Robert Adams, 23, was gunned down by San Bernadino cops in the parking lot of the business where he worked. Surveillance video of the shooting showed that the officers opened fire on Adams only after he turned an ran away from the unmarked car they had pulled up in just seconds before. The video also showed that the cops jumped out of the car in plainclothes and with guns already drawn, raising the questions of whether Adams knew he was running away from police or if he thought unknown assailants meant him harm.
Adams’ family now believes that the independent autopsy shows that the shooting was unjustified, and they are demanding answers from the department.
Adams’ family, along with its attorney Ben Crump, said during a press conference in front of San Bernardino City Hall that the autopsy’s findings ultimately confirmed what surveillance video showed.
“So what does that tell us? That they were not threatened by a black man running away from them? There was no reason for them to shoot this black man running away from them, seven times,” Crump said.
Adams was on the phone with his mother, Tamika King, when the shooting unfolded back on July 16.
The San Bernadino Police Department, unsurprisingly, has a different take. They told CBS LA that officers on a special undercover detail took a call about a man with a gun who was standing in the parking lot of the same illegal gambling operation where Adams worked. They claim that when they arrived, he pulled a gun and walked toward officers before turning and running. California allows the concealed carry of handguns for people over age 18 who have a license, with some restrictions. It’s unclear if Adams had a permit.
California doesn’t have a specific “Stand-Your-Ground” law, like in other states that explicitly gives individuals the right to defend themselves with deadly force if they are in public settings, but several legal experts said that the state’s courts have ruled that Californians in possession of a weapon don’t have a duty to retreat if they are threatened in public. That could play a role in an investigation into the shooting and any criminal or civil action to follow, particularly if it’s established that Adams didn’t know he was being approached by cops and therefore thought he was defending himself.