EL CAJON, Calif. (AP) — Police shot and wounded a man they said was acting erratically in a San Diego suburb on Tuesday, drawing an angry cluster of protesters that believed it to be another instance of law enforcement shooting an unarmed black man.
Several dozen people, most of them black, gathered and some cursed at officers guarding the scene in El Cajon after the shooting.
Many were chanting “black lives matter!” and “hands up, don’t shoot!”
A woman who was working the drive-thru window at a restaurant next to the shooting captured it on video. The woman turned her phone over to investigators voluntarily and signed a consent form, police Lt. Rob Ransweiler said.
Police said the man did not have his hands up when he was shot, as some witnesses have said, and police say the cellphone video shows this.
Officers were called to the area of the Broadway Village Shopping Center shortly after 2 p.m. by reports of a man acting erratically, “walking in traffic, that kind of stuff,” Ransweiler said.
The man, believed to be 30 years old, was taken to a hospital. There was no word on his condition.
One officer shot the man. Details of the confrontation weren’t immediately released, and Ransweiler declined to say whether the man had a weapon.
Michael Ray Rodriguez was among the witnesses who said the man had his hands in the air. He said that he was driving out of his apartment complex past the shooting scene and saw a shirtless black man with his hands up and an officer firing seconds later.
The officer “let go of the trigger and shot him again and again,” Rodriguez told the San Diego Union-Tribune.
One woman who appeared in a video posted by Rumbie Mubaiwa on her Facebook page is heard telling police at the scene that the man was ordered to take his hand out of his pocket.
“I said: ‘Take your hand out your pocket, baby, or they’re going to shoot you.’ He said ‘no, no, no,’ ” the woman said. “When he lifted his hand out … he did have something in his hand but it wasn’t no gun, and that’s when they shot him.”
On Mubaiwa’s tape, a woman wearing hospital-style scrub clothing who said she was the man’s sister appeared distraught, repeatedly shrieking and crying, telling officers that she had called them to help her brother.
“I just called for help, and you came and killed him,” she said.
“Don’t you guys have crisis communications teams to talk to somebody mentally sick?” she asks.
A new policy by the San Diego County District Attorney’s office requires release of such officer-involved shooting footage, but it was unclear when that would happen, he said.
The police department is working on a program to have officers wear body cameras, but none have been issued, Ransweiler said.
El Cajon is a city 15 miles northeast of San Diego and has a population of about 100,000. It is 69 percent white and 6 percent black, according to 2010 census figures. It has become a common home for refugees fleeing Iraq and, more recently, Syria.