New bodycam footage showing the moment Los Angeles police fatally shot a 14-year-old in Boyle Heights in 2016 was released Tuesday by the teen’s family attorney.
Though Los Angeles County prosecutors have declined to file charges in the shooting and the Los Angeles Police Commission has ruled the officer involved justified, the attorney for Jesse Romero’s family says the footage disproves the official narrative of the fatal incident.
Romero’s family is suing the city over the shooting, alleging that the officers violated his civil rights, used excessive force and failed to promptly render medical aid.
The teen was shot after police responded to reports of three people graffitiing behind an apartment building near Chicago Street and Cesar Chavez Avenue on Aug. 9, 2016.
Romero, who was armed, allegedly fled the scene as an associate of his was detained. But controversy surrounds what happened next.
While police say the teen fired their gun at pursuing officers as he was running away, two witnesses claim the firearm went off after Romero dropped it and it hit the ground. Critics point to a photo included in a district attorney’s memo that shows Romero’s revolver laying several feet and on the opposite side of a fence from the teen’s dead body.
Family attorney Humberto Guizar said it took two years to obtain the video released Tuesday, but loved ones were determined for it to reach the public.
“The kid did have a gun, that is true,” Guizar said. “But he didn’t deserve to die. He discarded the gun.”
The footage shows the entire ordeal, beginning with the officers making contact with the boys outside the apartment complex.
As the officers chase the fleeing Romero down Cesar Chavez Avenue, at least one can be heard shouting “stop running.”
After Romero rounds the corner of Breed Street, a gunshot is heard. Officer Eden Medina is seen peering around a building at the corner as one of his associates says, “Shots are fired, shots fired, officer needs help.”
Medina is seen rounding the corner with his weapon dawn, then gunfire rings out. But his camera is pointing away as he fires the fatal shot.
Chicano activist Carlos Montes said it doesn’t add up that Medina would have rounded the corner if Romero’s gun was drawn.
“If (Romero) was shooting, (Medina) wouldn’t have stepped out in the line of fire,” he said.
After he is shot, the officers are heard ordering Romero “don’t move” and “get down” as they approach him laying on the sidewalk, unconscious and his body twitching. His revolver can be seen laying several feet away.
Police flip Romero’s body over and handcuff him, but there is no footage of the officers checking his pulse or rendering medical aid.
Guizar is also representing the family of another man fatally shot by Medina on July 28, 2016, just 12 days before Romero was killed.
Omar Gonzalez and Romero are among six people shot by officers in the LAPD’s Hollenbeck division during 2016, which is more than any of the agency’s other divisions saw that year, according to the Los Angeles Times.