The death of Los Angeles teen, Carnell Snell Jr., 18, is among two fatal police shootings that sparked off angry protests in California this past week, and amplified debates over racial bias and excess force in U.S. policing.
Now, a video has been released by Los Angeles police who say Snell was carrying a gun when police fatally shot him on Saturday, Oct. 1.
The video shows a man in a blue hoody, who police identified as Snell, running through an L.A. strip mall. He appears to be holding a hand gun with his left hand as he runs behind parked cars. He then tucks the alleged gun into his pants and runs away from the camera.
Seconds later, a male police officer is seen running in the same direction as the young man.
LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck, said he carefully considered if releasing the footage would be a good idea along with the mayor and President of The Police Commission. After close consideration, Beck decided to release the footage, stating that doing so is beneficial to the safety of the public.
Beck said he knows that the public will not believe the police’s account, even with the footage included. But he believes that misinformation has been spread about both fatal shootings that’s occurred this weekend.
“I think that it’s important that we put forward information to clarify so that people can put these events, tragic as they are, in perspective,” said Beck. “This is not done in any way to denigrate Mr. Snell.”
“This is merely to correct what I think is a faulty public record,” he added” Residents have questioned the police’s account.
Beck did not notify Snell’s family of his decision to release the footage. According to Beck, the video was not an end-of-life video and didn’t think notifying Snell’s family about its release was necessary.
Local activists say this shows that the LAPD can release footage quickly without a proper investigation.
This goes against the LAPD’s routine refusal to release footage of controversial incidents involving the police force.
Beck, together with authorities said he is against the release of footage from body cameras because it violates the privacy of people who are captured on the recordings. The LAPD Police Chief said doing so may interfere with an investigation.
“Now it just knocks out the rationale that police officials, LAPD officials, have for not releasing video,” said Earl Ofari Hutchinson, a civil rights advocate and president of Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable.
A debate on the LAPD’s policy on releasing such controversial footage to the public may start this month.
The public release of the footage— obtained from local businesses— did not stop protesters from descending on the Police Commission’s weekly meeting shouting, “FIRE CHARLIE BECK.”
The commission was forced to recess thirty minutes into the meeting due to repeated interruptions from protestors. Protestors continued to shout, saying, “BLACK LIVES, THEY MATTER.”
Melina Abdullah, an organizer of the BLM movement said the footage leaves some questions unanswered, and also accused the police force of attempting to “assassinate” Snell’s character.
The video does not show the officers opening fire on Snell or him wielding a gun at them. “I don’t care if he had a gun Abdullah said, garnering applause.”
“Because life Matters!”