As expected, a judge has ordered the release of a video showing the Gardena police fatally shooting the unarmed brother of a bike theft victim.
Ricardo Diaz-Zeferino was trying to tell the officers that the men they had detained weren’t bike thieves, but friends who were helping to look for the bike.
But instead of releasing them, the cops opened fire when he took of his hat and lowered his hands, shooting Diaz-Zeferino eight times, and injuring one of his companions, who had his hands in the air the whole time.
Even though Diaz-Zeferino was unarmed, and as the video shows, made no threatening moves towards the officers.
He was shot, apparently, because they thought he might possibly be armed, and they were too afraid to wait to see if he really had a gun before blowing him away.
Even though the city felt there it had enough liability to settle with the victims’ families to the tune of a $4.7 million, paid out of the taxpayer’s pockets.
That’s a lot of guilt if no one did a damn thing wrong.
The city fought the release of the video, claiming it could result in a “rush to judgment” about the officer’s behavior, according to KPCC.
Or it could just let the public see what really happened. And realize that what sounded like a bad shoot by trigger happy cops, was.
It used to be that any cop who shot an unarmed person could expect to lose his or her job, at the very least. I once knew an officer, in another state, who freely admitted carrying a spare gun and a knife to drop by the victim if he ever shot someone who wasn’t armed.
And it used to be that fellow officers wanted bad cops off the force, because they made everyone else look bad and made the public lose faith in the officers charged with protecting them.
In fact, that officer was eventually fired, at the urging of his fellow officers.
Clearly, those days have changed.
So be careful riding through Gardena.
In other cities, getting stopped by the police could get you a ticket you might not deserve, from a cop who doesn’t understand bike law.
In Gardena, it could get you shot.
But it won’t get anyone fired.
Update: I was reminded this morning that Gardena is also where a group of Hispanic riders were illegally harassed by the police two years ago, while on their way to meet with the city manager to discuss the unsolved hit-and-run bike rider Benjamin Torres.
Warning: The video below, posted online by the LA Times, shows the full shooting from two separate angles. Decide for yourself whether you really want to see that before pushing play.