Ricardo Diaz Zeferino was shot and killed by LAPD officers, and now newly released video sheds light on his controversial death.
The police department had tried to keep video of the killing secret, but this week, a judge ordered that it be released.
“The fact that [the authorities] spent the city’s money, presumably derived from taxes, only strengthens the public’s interest in seeing the videos,” Judge Stephen Wilson wrote in a 13-page decision. “Moreover, defendants cannot assert a valid compelling interest in sealing the videos to cover up any wrongdoing on their part or to shield themselves from embarrassment.”
A coalition of lawyers representing news agencies had also pushed for the video’s release, citing the First Amendment and the public’s right to know what happened in the wake of other controversial police shootings. The city of Gardena had already paid $4.7 million in a lawsuit to Zeferino’s family and to Eutiquio Acevedo Mendez, who was also wounded.
The video shows Zeferino and another man stopped by police, apparently posing no threats. As the Guardian noted, police opened fire quickly in what appeared to be a moment of confusion.
“Police are shown with guns drawn approaching Diaz Zeferino and two other men standing by a pavement. The officers order them to raise their hands. They comply. Diaz Zeferino then lowers and raises his hands several times and removes his cap, apparently confused. Three officers open fire, killing him with eight bullets. They also wounded one of the other men.”
Ricardo Diaz Zeferino then fell to the ground along with Mendez.
Gardena Police Chief Ed Medrano called the shooting “tragic for all involved.”
“We have thoroughly reviewed our response and have initiated new training, including the tactical use of cover techniques to slow down fast-moving events,” he said, via the Los Angeles Times.
Medrano also said Gardena police officers will be equipped with body cameras, but said he was against the release of the Ricardo Diaz Zeferino death video.
“Our police officers are entrusted with sensitive and extremely personal information and we often come in contact with people under tragic situations and at their worst,” he said. “We worry about the implications of this decision and its impact on victims and average citizens who are recorded by the police.”
The video of Zeferino’s shooting death caused outrage not only for the apparently unprovoked nature of the shooting, but other mistakes made by LAPD officers. Police were responding to a call about a stolen bicycle, but it was Zeferino’s brother who owned the bicycle. The deceased man and the others with him were searching for the bike when police arrived.
Video of Ricardo Diaz Zeferino being shot and killed can be seen here, but be warned that it can be disturbing for viewers.