Black man shot dead by po­lice near San Diego, probe un­der­way

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - By Julie Watson and An­drew Dal­ton

EL CA­JON >> A black man re­port­edly act­ing er­rat­i­cally at a strip mall in sub­ur­ban San Diego was shot and killed by po­lice af­ter pulling an ob­ject from his pocket, point­ing it at of­fi­cers and as­sum­ing a “shoot­ing stance,” au­thor­i­ties said.

One of­fi­cer fired an elec­tronic stun gun and an­other of­fi­cer simultaneously fired his firearm sev­eral times, El Ca­jon Po­lice Chief Jeff Davis told re­porters at a news con­fer­ence late Tues­day night. Davis would not say what the ob­ject was, but ac­knowl­edged it was not a weapon.

Be­fore po­lice an­nounced the death, dozens of pro­test­ers gath­ered at the shoot­ing scene, with some claim­ing the man was shot with his hands raised. Po­lice dis­puted that and pro­duced a frame from cell­phone video taken by a wit­ness that ap­peared to show the man in the “shoot­ing stance” as two of­fi­cers ap­proached with weapons drawn.

The fatal shoot­ing hap­pened just weeks af­ter black men were shot and killed by po­lice in Tulsa, Ok­la­homa, and in Char­lotte, North Carolina, where vi­o­lent protests broke out.

Can­dles and flow­ers were left Wed­nes­day at the scene of the Tues­day af­ter­noon shoot­ing, near blood­stains on the pave­ment.

The man shot of­ten hung around the strip mall and fre­quently seemed “ag­i­tated but he was never ag­gres­sive to­ward me,” said Vic­tor Hauer, who works at a nearby con­ve­nience store and some­times bought the man food or gave him a few dol­lars.

The protest in El Ca­jon Tues­day was an­gry but peace­ful. Sev­eral dozen peo­ple, most of them black, gath­ered and some cursed at of­fi­cers guard­ing the scene. They chanted “black lives mat­ter!” and “hands up, don’t shoot!”

Davis urged the com­mu­nity to re­main calm and said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion will be thor­ough.

“This will be trans­par­ent,” he said. “This will be looked at by mul­ti­ple sets of eyes, and not just ours.”

Po­lice said they were called to the mall shortly af­ter 2 p.m. by the sis­ter of a man in his 30s who said he was “not act­ing like him­self” and walk­ing in traf­fic. They say the man re­fused “mul­ti­ple” or­ders to take his hand from his pocket, then was shot af­ter pulling out the ob­ject.

When de­tec­tives ar­rived, po­lice say a fe­male wit­ness came for­ward and vol­un­tar­ily pro­vided cell­phone video of the in­ci­dent. Au­thor­i­ties re­leased the sin­gle frame from it but not the video. El Ca­jon of­fi­cers do not wear body cam­eras.

Other videos quickly sur­faced show­ing the af­ter­math. In one posted to Face­book, an uniden­ti­fied woman is heard telling po­lice at the scene that the man was or­dered to take his hand out of his pocket.

“I said: ‘Take your hand out your pocket, baby, or they’re go­ing to shoot you.’ He said ‘no, no, no,’ “the woman said. “When he lifted his hand out ... he did have some­thing in his hand but it wasn’t no gun, and that’s when they shot him.”

An­other woman on the video wear­ing hospi­tal-style work cloth­ing iden­ti­fied her­self as the man’s sis­ter. She shrieked and and cried, telling of­fi­cers that she had called them to help her brother, who she de­scribed as men­tally ill.

“I just called for help, and you came and killed him,” she said.

Michael Ray Rodriguez was among wit­nesses who said the man had his hands in the air. He said that he was driv­ing from his apart­ment com­plex past the shoot­ing scene and saw a shirt­less black man with his hands raised.

The of­fi­cer “let go of the trig­ger and shot him again and again,” Rodriguez told the San Diego Union-Tri­bune.

El Ca­jon is about 15 miles north­east of San Diego and has a pop­u­la­tion of about 100,000.

It is 69 per­cent white and 6 per­cent black, ac­cord­ing to 2010 cen­sus fig­ures, and has be­come a home for many refugees flee­ing Iraq and, more re­cently, Syria.

HAYNE PALMOUR IV/THE SAN DIEGO UNION-TRI­BUNE VIA AP

Shawn Letchaw hugs a woman named Marie, who didn’t give her last name, at the scene where a black man was shot by po­lice ear­lier in El Ca­jon, east of San Diego, Calif., Tues­day.

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