Deputies in southern California shot dead an armed black man who refused to drop his weapon, according to law enforcement authorities, but a video posted online by local media appeared to show him crawling away from the officers as they shot him.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department could not be reached immediately on Sunday to comment on the reports of the video capturing the incident, which occurred a day earlier.
There is currently heightened scrutiny in the United States over police use of lethal force, especially against unarmed black people. Over the past year, numerous protests have been held across the United States against the police, and some have turned violent.
Sheriff deputies on Saturday responded to reports that a black man had a gun and that shots were fired in Lynwood, where they found an armed suspect in front of a busy gas station, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement.
The unidentified deputies opened fire on the suspect after he did not comply with orders to drop his gun. The suspect was struck by gunfire and pronounced dead at the scene, where a loaded handgun was recovered, according to the sheriff’s department.
The sheriff’s department also said it had witnesses who had seen the suspect turn and point a gun at the deputies before the shooting. The department did not say in the statement that the man killed was black, despite stating that the initial reports concerned a black man.
In a cell phone video posted online by KTLA, a news station in Los Angeles, two officers are seen shooting a black man who is walking away from them. After the gunfire ceases, the man is seen crawling on the ground away from the officers, who open fire on him again.
A crowd of about a dozen people protested against the police at the scene after the incident, according to KTLA.
“In this modern age of cell phone 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 said in the statement, although it was not clear if he was referring to the same footage.
KTLA reported said the man killed by police was 28-year-old Nicholas Robertson, citing relatives.
“When they shot him in the shoulder and I see him falling, that’s injustice, for me,” Robertson’s mother-in-law Pamela Brown told KTLA.