Video of a fatal Gardena, Calif., police-involved shooting has been unsealed after media outlets demanded its public release, the Associated Press reports.
A federal judge ruled in favor of the police dash-cam video’s release, pointing out that the city could not claim any compelling reason to keep the video sealed and adding that there was public interest in what led the city to settle with the family of the victim for $4.7 million.
"The fact that they spent the city's money, presumably derived from taxes, only strengthens the public's interest in seeing the videos," Judge Steven Wilson wrote in his decision. "Moreover, defendants cannot assert a valid compelling interest in sealing the videos to cover up any wrongdoing on their part or to shield themselves from embarrassment."
On June 2, 2013, Ricardo Diaz-Zeferino was helping his brother and two friends search for his brother's stolen bicycle. When the theft was called in, however, police dispatchers reportedly erroneously reported it as a robbery. Misinformed responding officers approached the men as possibly armed suspects.
In the video footage, which shows the officers approaching Diaz-Zeferino and his companions, officers could be heard yelling at the men to get their hands up. The men put their arms in the air.
Diaz-Zeferino, who was intoxicated at the time, AP notes, took a few steps toward the police, slowly lowering his hands with his palms up and gesturing as if he were speaking to the officers. Officers again yelled at him to put his hands up, with which he again complied.
The young man then moved again, this time taking off a cap that was on his head and lowering his hands before police started opening fire.
According to AP, from one angle it looks as if Diaz-Zeferino's palms were open and facing upward, but from other footage taken from behind the two officers, it almost looks as if his right hand briefly went out of view at his waist before officers opened fire.
A friend, Eutiquio Acevedo Mendez, was shot once and injured.
Two minutes after the shots were fired, officers handcuffed the gravely wounded Diaz-Zeferino. Paramedics did not arrive on the scene until nine minutes after he was shot.
Read more at the Associated Press.