Just Released: Fatal Shooting DashCam Video Police Kept Under Wraps For Two Years

On June 2, 2013, police in Gardena, California, responded to a call about a stolen bicycle at a CVS drugstore, and after mistaking three unarmed men helping to search for the bike as the thieves, ended up shooting one of them dead.

The city settled with the family of Ricardo Diaz Zeferino for $4.7M, but has worked relentlessly to keep patrol car videos of the incident from being released to the public. A federal judge ordered their release Tuesday, deciding that since the Zeferino settlement was paid for presumably by tax funds, the public had an interest in seeing the recordings.

Gardena Police Chief Ed Medrano said in a statement issued on Tuesday that while the shooting was “tragic for all involved,” he opposed the release of police video to the public.

“Our police officers are entrusted with sensitive and extremely personal information and we often come in contact with people under tragic situations and at their worst,” he said. “We worry about the implications of this decision and its impact on victims and average citizens who are recorded by the police.”

The recordings show three men with laser dots trained on them with their hands in the air. As officers point guns at them, repeatedly ordering them to keep their hands up, Diaz Zeferino moves forward and back, at times dropping his arms. When he moves his hands towards his head and removes his ball cap, police open fire, shooting Diaz Zeferino dead and wounding one of the men he was with.

All of the officers involved in the shooting are still on duty after the district attorney’s office declined to file charges against the officers. When Gardena was sued by the Diaz Zeferino family, the city argued the video shows he did not comply with police orders, but lawyers for the deceased said the recordings made plain that he was not armed or a threat to officers and his killing was unnecessary.

Once the lawsuit was settled, Gardena police fought the release of the recordings, arguing it “would deter police from using such cameras and would endanger the safety of its officers at a time of heightened public criticism of police killings.”


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