A disturbing video emerged Friday showing two Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies killing a man after they had chased him for riding a bicycle while wearing headphones.
The incident took place more than a year ago with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department initially telling the media that they shot and killed 23-year-old Noel Aguilar, a “known gang member,” after he pulled out a gun and shot a deputy.
But now a video shows the two deputies struggling to arrest Aguilar when one deputy pulls out his gun and shoots the second deputy before placing his gun back into its holster, then placing the blame on Aguilar.
“Where’s the gun?” Los Angeles sheriff’s deputy Jose Ruiz asked Aguilar seconds after his partner announced he had been shot.
“I don’t have any,” Aguilar said.
“I’ve been shot,” yelled Albert Murade for the second time.
“I didn’t shoot nobody,” responded Aguilar.
“I got shot in the stomach,” Murade continued.
“I didn’t shoot nobody,” Aguilar insisted.
Ruiz then pulled his gun back out and pointed it at Aguilar in an obvious attempt to shut him up.
“C’mon man, why you pulling a gun on me,” Aguilar asked.
Ruiz shoots him in the stomach, prompting Murade, who is already angry at having been shot, to fire three bullets into Aguilar’s back.
That sparks angry shouts of protest from witnesses, in English and in Spanish, saying Aguilar did nothing illegal.
“I’ve been shot,” Murade kept repeating now that the struggle was subsiding.
“I’m dying,” Aguilar said, fading away.
“Go sit down,” Ruiz told Murade, pushing his partner away while standing over Aguilar, comfortable he was now handcuffed and facedown, the life slowly slipping out of him, keeping his knee on his back just to be sure.
Murade took his advice and walked off-camera as the shouts of anger became more intense, demanding Ruiz remove the knee from Aguilar’s back.
But Ruiz went from keeping a single knee on Aguilar’s back to plopping his entire body on his back, remaining there for several minutes in a suffocating manner while furious witnesses ordered him off.
It was almost as if he was deliberately trying to squeeze the life out of Aguilar, whom he knew would never shut up about not having shot Murade.
Ruiz is eventually pried off Aguilar’s body by the swarming deputies who enter the scene with their guns pointed at witnesses, ordering them all back inside their homes, running up stairwells to chase people all away.
Or maybe even seize cameras. They had that familiar arrogance we have seen so many times before that they are above the law.
But it does not appear as if they saw the people who were recording, at least one of them appearing to be a woman, because that camera continued to record from an elevated position unmolested for at least eight minutes.
In fact, the footage probably runs longer but this is pretty much all we need to see.
Angel Carrazco, attorney for Aguilar’s family, released the footage to the The OC Weekly, saying he first saw the video three weeks ago, even though the incident took place on May 26, 2014 in Long Beach.
The footage shared by Carrazco’s Tustin-based law firm has been enhanced, slowed down in key spots and transcribed. “We got the video through an independent witness that was there,” he says. “This is evidence that we’ve had in the last twenty days.” Carrazco is handing the new evidence over to the Department of Justice, FBI, U.S. Attorney’s office and the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office in hopes of bringing criminal charges against the deputies involved. The attorney is already in litigation for a civil suit brought on behalf of Aguilar’s family.
How the deputies handled Aguilar after he had been shot is also a matter of concern, Carrazco says. “He’s facing down after being shot four times and they’re on top of him,” Carrazco says. “There needs to be a medical conclusion to find out whether they were trying to get him to asphyxiate or bleed to death. By the video, it seems like they were trying to do both.” Aguilar can be heard screaming, “I’m dying!” while onlookers berate the deputies in English and Spanish that they shot him in the back and to get off him because he’s dying.
The day after the shooting, the Orange County Register accused Aguilar of shooting the deputy because he was a “known gang member” as you can see in the image below.
But then the following month, the Los Angeles Times reported that deputy Murade had been shot by deputy Ruiz, not by Aguilar, whom they referred to as a “transient.”
But the sheriff’s department continued to insist that Aguilar had a gun, even if he didn’t shoot at it as they initially claimed. They also said he tried to grab one of their guns.
And they suggested that he may have even been the one who shot Murade with Ruiz’s gun.
But the video not only shows Ruiz shooting Murade, then blaming Aguila, it shows that Aguilar never reached for any of their guns.
UPDATE: On Wednesday, two days before this video was released, CNN published an article stating that “accidental shootings” increased 500 percent from 2012 to 2014 after the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department issued new Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm.
The article was based on a study funded by Los Angeles County, which states the following reasons those guns are “putting officers and the public at risk.”
–The weapon lacks an external safety;
–It’s more sensitive than the Beretta;
–And a light mounted to the gun and activated by deputies squeezing a pressure switch on the handle has led to confusion in some incidents, with “a significant number of deputies reporting that they unintentionally pulled the trigger of their weapon when they intended only to turn on the light.”
Here is a police report on the incident from earlier this year justifying the shooting.
But now that you can see the video, how many contradictions can you spot between the report and the video?