Surveillance video released Tuesday by the Los Angeles Police Department appears to show a man holding a gun before he was fatally shot by police officers in a Saturday afternoon killing that has prompted days of protest.
The video, which reveals a portion of the pursuit prior to the deadly shooting, shows the man running to the front of a strip mall before pulling what appears to be a handgun from his waistband and then standing behind an SUV.
The man quickly puts the gun back in his pants and the turns to run down a path to the side of the strip mall.
Two officers can then be seen chasing the man down the same path on foot.
The chase came to an end when the man, identified as 18-year-old Carnell Snell Jr., entered the driveway of a home in the 1700 block of 107th Street in the Gramercy Park area.
Snell had a handgun in his left hand, out of his waistband, when he reached a closed metal gate and turned toward officers, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said.
“Officers felt this was an imminent threat,” Beck said in discussing the video’s release Tuesday.
One officer fired three rounds, and Snell climbed over the gate and made a “similar motion back toward the officers with the gun in his hand,” prompting a second three-round volley, Beck said. Snell, who did not fire, collapsed and was pronounced dead at the scene.
No video captured the gunfire, Beck said.
Police recovered a fully loaded handgun at the scene, Beck said.
The death prompted several demonstrations, including one outside the Hancock Park home of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and another at LAPD headquarters in downtown Los Angeles.
On Tuesday, protester chants interrupted a Los Angeles Police Commission meeting, prompting the board to move into closed session.
The mother of Richard Risher, an 18-year-old fatally shot during a gun battle with police in Watts in July, spoke angrily.
“I want to ask you a question, Mr. Beck. If I start killing your officers the way you killed my kids, would it be equal?” Lisa Simpson said.
Asked about the comments later, Beck sighed and said Risher had shot a police officer. Simpson’s comments were close to but not at the level of “terrorist threats,” he said.
“I understand that she grieves, but Los Angeles police officers have a very dangerous job,” Beck said.
Beck said he had long discussions with Garcetti and commission President Matthew Johnson before choosing to release the video, which was posted on YouTube. The recording was made from a business near the scene of the shooting. Beck has said there is no bodycam or police cruiser footage showing the killing.
Beck released the video “to correct … a faulty public record” and not to “denigrate” Snell, he said.
“Normally, we don’t release video prior to adjudication, but I think it was important in this case,” Beck said. “I’ve always contended that the chief of police has the discretion when he believes that the public interest or public safety is best served to release video.”
He hoped the general public would see an armed man “intent on keeping the weapon,” he said. He questioned why Snell didn’t discard the firearm when he was out of sight of officers.
Some critics, he acknowledged, will not be convinced by the video.
“There are folks that will not believe any narrative, no matter what the fact pattern is that is put out. This video is not for them,” Beck said. “Folks that are going to find holes in whatever I present to them — unless they were physically present — are not going to believe the police’s point of view on this.”
The police union, meanwhile, said in a statement that the officers had “responded to protect themselves and the public.”
The Los Angeles Police Protective League statement continued:
In light of this video, we eagerly await those who fostered false information about this incident to take it back and turn their outrage toward seeking answers from the suspect’s friends and family as to where the suspect acquired the gun and where the suspect learned it was OK to point a loaded gun at police officers.
Beck has not said Snell pointed the firearm directly at the officers.
Mayor Eric Garcetti expressed condolences to Snell’s family and “caring for the safety and health of our officers.” He said the release of the video has contributed toward transparency in the case.
The shooting occurred after police initially followed Snell and another man after they spotted a light-blue Nissan Altima with paper license plates that indicated an incorrect model year. They suspected the vehicle may have been stolen.
Snell and the other man eventually fled the vehicle and foot pursuit began.