Gar­dena’s videos of shoot­ing are sought

Los Angeles Times - - LOS ANGELES - By Matt Hamil­ton matt.hamil­ton @la­times.com

By bar­ring the re­lease of videos that recorded po­lice fa­tally shoot­ing an un­armed man, the city of Gar­dena is vi­o­lat­ing the public’s right to in­for­ma­tion, three news com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing the Los An­ge­les Times, ar­gued in a mo­tion sub­mit­ted Mon­day to a fed­eral judge.

The dash­board videos — un­der seal since Fe­bru­ary in a fed­eral civil rights law­suit — recorded parts of the June 2, 2013, shoot­ing of Ri­cardo Diaz Ze­ferino, who was struck by eight bul­lets. An­other man, Eu­tiquio Acevedo Men­dez, suf­fered a gun­shot wound.

Men­dez and Diaz Ze­ferino’s fam­ily filed the law­suit in 2013. The case was set­tled last month for $4.7 mil­lion.

In their mo­tion, The Times, the As­so­ci­ated Press and Bloomberg as­sert that as ev­i­dence lodged for a key pretrial ar­gu­ment, the videos should never have been sealed and must im­me­di­ately be made avail­able to the public in the in­ter­est of ac­count­abil­ity.

“Ac­cess to the videos is crit­i­cal for the public to have a full and ac­cu­rate ac­count of the pro­ceed­ings that oc­curred be­fore this court,” the mo­tion states, adding that the city paid mil­lions in tax­payer money “to set­tle al­le­ga­tions of al­leged po­lice mis­con­duct.”

Gar­dena sought the seal by say­ing the videos showed grue­some images and re­vealed tech­niques used by po­lice that, if shown, would breach a “law en­force­ment priv­i­lege,” ac­cord­ing to court pa­pers.

The city’s at­tor­neys also pre­dicted the videos would scan­dal­ize the public, a “le­git­i­mate con­cern” given the cur­rent anti-po­lice cli­mate.

The Times and other news or­ga­ni­za­tions dis­puted the idea that po­lice have such a right to pri­vacy or “law en­force­ment priv­i­lege,” not­ing that the shoot­ing took place on a public street.

The night of the shoot­ing, an of­fi­cer re­spond­ing to a re­ported bi­cy­cle theft saw two men rid­ing bi­cy­cles on Re- dondo Beach Boule­vard and stopped them, ac­cord­ing to a memo writ­ten by a Los An­ge­les County pros­e­cu­tor.

Diaz Ze­ferino ran up to the two men, his friends, and even­tu­ally held up his hands, ac­cord­ing to the pros­e­cu­tor’s memo. Three more of­fi­cers ar­rived and drew their guns.

Ac­cord­ing to pros­e­cu­tors, Diaz Ze­ferino dropped his hands, reached into his waist­band or pocket and made a toss­ing mo­tion. He re­peated the move, the memo said, and an of­fi­cer warned him if he made the move again, he’d shoot him.

Diaz Ze­ferino re­moved his hat, low­ered his hands, and as he be­gan to raise his hands again, three of­fi­cers opened fire, the memo said.

Bar­bara David­son Los An­ge­les Times

EU­TIQUIO ACEVEDO Men­dez, right, was wounded in the fa­tal 2013 shoot­ing of Ri­cardo Diaz Ze­ferino.

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