Press Demands Release of Video in Fatal Calif. Police-Involved Shooting

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The Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times and Bloomberg are demanding the release of police dash-cam footage of a fatal 2013 shooting of an unarmed man, AP reports

A lawyer for the three outlets is arguing that the public has the right to see video that was captured on the cameras in three police vehicles. The video was sealed in a federal lawsuit in which the city of Gardena, Calif., settled for $4.7 million with the family of Ricardo Diaz-Zeferino, who was shot to death by officers in June 2013, as well as a friend of Diaz-Zeferino's who was wounded in the shooting.


"The burden is theirs to show they're entitled to an ongoing sealing," Rochelle Wilcox, an attorney for the news outlets, said, according to the report. "We think they haven't even come close to meeting their burden. … The public policy strongly supports disclosure of this video, which was taken on a public street."

The city's lawyers, however, are arguing that releasing the video could lead to a "rush to judgment" against the four officers involved and cause law enforcement to reconsider use of cameras.


"Public agencies will be forced to wrestle with the issue of whether they wish to deploy dashboard cameras and body-worn cameras for fear that this information could be obtained, released in a distorted and sensationalistic manner, and misinterpreted, leading to acts of civil disobedience, damage to property, and the potential loss of life," the city claimed in court papers.

On the night of the shooting, Diaz-Zeferino was with his brother and two friends, according to Daily Breeze. A bicycle belonging to Diaz-Zeferino's brother, Augustin de Jesus Reynoso, was stolen from outside a CVS store. A CVS employee reported the theft, according to Daily Breeze, but the call was misinterpreted and went out to dispatch as a robbery involving "unknown weapons," according to police. As Diaz-Zeferino was attempting to help his brother find the bike, the misinformed officers opened fire, also hitting one of Diaz-Zeferino's friends.


The cameras reportedly supported testimony that Diaz-Zeferino did not listen to officers when he was told to stand still and keep his hands in the air. He constantly reached for his pants before he was shot eight times, the report claims. Prosecutors said that the shooting was justified and did not charge the four officers involved.

One of the lawyers for Diaz-Zeferino's family, however, said that the video would prove that Diaz-Zeferino was doing nothing wrong.


"As long as the video is not released, the city of Gardena will continue to spin the facts," Sonia Mercado said, according to AP.

Read more at Talking Points Memo.

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