Investigators say a man was armed and turning toward sheriff's deputies when they fatally shot him in Lynwood Saturday, as video emerged showing the man apparently walking away as a barrage of bullets were fired at him.
The shooting occurred around 11:10 a.m. at the intersection of Long Beach Boulevard and Magnolia Avenue, according to a news release from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. The man died at the scene.
He was later identified by family members as 28-year-old Nicholas Robertson. They said he was a married father of three.
Deputies first responded to several calls reporting a person -- described as a black man wearing a checkered shirt -- was seen with a gun near Magnolia and Alpine avenues, Lt. Eddie Hernandez with the sheriff's Homicide Bureau said.
Additional callers told officials the man was moving eastbound on Magnolia, toward Long Beach Boulevard, a block away from the initial report.
At one point, Robertson was said to be actively shooting, according to Hernandez. It was not known where he was allegedly shooting, or if one or more witnesses reported this detail.
Responding deputies gave him "several commands" to drop the gun.
"We have witnesses that say that the suspect turned, pointed the gun at the deputies, and a deputy-involved shooting occurred," Hernandez said.
Investigators had yet to speak to the deputies involved as of Saturday afternoon, he said.
A person who wished to remain anonymous sent KTLA a 29-second video Saturday afternoon that apparently captured some of fatal incident.
In it, a sheriff's deputy follows a man who appears to be walking away from the official and next to an Arco gas station.
At least a dozen gunshots can then be heard being fired, and the man falls to the ground.
Once on the ground, the camera panned to focus solely on the man, who crawls next to the gas station and away from the gunfire.
After a pause in audible gunfire, at least a dozen additional shots are heard.
The camera then panned back to two deputies, who both had arms raised and were pointing guns in the man's direction.
At least one of the deputies then fired additional shots before the video ends.
It was not clear from the video if both deputies had fired their weapon, but when slowed down, more than 30 shots can be heard.
Hernandez could only confirm multiple shots were fired.
Investigators were aware of at least one video that recorded the fatal incident.
“My understanding is the suspect does, is in one of the frames, but it’s not very clear what the suspect’s actions are,” Hernandez said. “The video is just one piece of evidence that’s going to be examined as a part of a comprehensive, protracted, long investigation, and that’ll be analyzed against the physical evidence, the witness statements and the deputies’ statements.”
The video appeared to be filmed from a restaurant across the street from the Arco. In the unedited version, people can be heard cursing, talking about the incident unfolding in front of them, and asking if real bullets or beanbag rounds were being fired.
In addition to the people heard in the recording, three vehicles were seen inside the gas station parking lot at the time of the shooting, although it was not known if anyone was inside. Investigators were speaking to five witnesses as of Saturday afternoon, Hernandez said.
When asked if Robertson had a real gun, Hernandez said it appeared to be a .45-caliber handgun and that two "real bullets" were located that appeared to match the weapon.
Robertson's family members claimed he was unarmed.
The deputies involved in the shooting were only described as two men who worked at the sheriff's Century Station.
Neither were injured during the altercation, said Lt. Allen, with the same station.
The incident occurred as a national debate over police force, and the number of black men killed by officers, continued.
On Saturday, at least a dozen protestors showed up at the Lynwood scene, demanding answers through a loudspeaker and holding signs.
"Do you want to tell me why, in what circumstances, it would be justified to shoot somebody on their knees,” one woman asked reporters.
Robertson's mother-in-law was among the crowd, and said the shooting greatly upset her.
"When they shot him in the shoulder and I see him falling … that’s injustice, for me," Pamela Brown said.
The investigation into the incident was expected to take several months, Hernandez said.
In accordance with protocol, multiple agencies were involved in the investigation, and included the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, and sheriff's Homicide Bureau and Internal Affairs Bureau, according to a department news release.
The Sheriff's Department planned to hold a press conference Sunday morning to discuss the shooting and video.
"In this modern age of cellphone video and instant analysis on the Internet, I would ask that we keep in mind that a thorough and comprehensive investigation is detailed and time intensive," Sheriff Jim McDonnell stated in a news release.
Anyone with information about the incident was asked to contact the Sheriff's Department's Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Anonymous tippers were asked to contact "Crime Stoppers" by dialing 800-222-8477, texting the letters TIPLA plus the tip to 274637, or visit the website http://lacrimestoppers.org.