Long Beach police first claimed they shot and killed a man because he had “assaulted” an officer, which was promptly reported by the local media in Southern California.
Then as witnesses started coming forward, insisting they had shot him in the back, police claimed they shot and killed him because he had stepped out of the car with a “large wooden stick,” causing armed officers from multiple agencies to fear for their lives.
And then they claimed they shot him as he was walking away, but reaching into his waistband, causing them once again, to fear for their lives.
But when a witness who recorded the shooting posted the video on Youtube – showing that the man was simply walking away with both hands in clear view when they shot him multiple times in the back – they then claimed they had “an obstructed view”, so they really weren’t sure what was going on when they opened fire.
But obviously not so obstructed where they couldn’t strike their target from several yards away with a hail of gunfire.
Now even a former cop and use of force expert is saying the shooting was unjustified.
According to NBC Los Angeles:
Former LAPD detective Tim Williams, a police use of force expert, however, believes the shooting was unjustified. A witness recorded the shooting with his cell phone camera.
“I do not see (the suspect) reach his waist band at all,” Williams said. “From my observations from looking at this video tape, (the shooting) is not justified, I think it’s objectively unreasonable and it’s, my opinion, is excessive force.”
In the video, you see the suspect running down stairs, being chased by police dogs with both hands visible, before being shot.
The other excuse police are using is that officers opened fire after hearing fellow officers opening fire, which, of course, would cause them to fear for their lives.
And that excuse has worked in the past, according to LAist:
The fact that the Long Beach release mentions the sound of deputies’ gunfire is worth noting. This isn’t the first time police say they have been rattled by friendly fire before deploying lethal force on a suspect. LAPD killed an unarmed driver who put his hands up at the end of a police chase in December, and some reports have suggested that police at the scene were set off by the sound of non-lethal bean bags other officers fired at the victim. During the hunt for Christopher Dorner, Torrance Police fired at a surfer and rammed into his car, because they heard LAPD gunfire aimed at some innocent newspaper delivery women erupt nearby. The surfer wasn’t hit by gunfire but he did suffer a concussion and a spinal injury from the crash. The District Attorney ruled that police officers made a “reasonable mistake.”
Fast forward the video to the 1:51 mark to see when he steps out of his car, appearing to be carrying some sort of stick, never once threatening cops with it, and discarding it seconds later.
The victim has been identified as Jason Conoscenti, 36.
According to the Long Beach Press-Telegram:
Around 2:45 p.m. that day, security guards at a Target store in the 1600 block of South Alameda Street in Compton tried to detain the man “for a theft,” according to a sergeant at the Compton sheriff’s station.
Conoscenti allegedly brandished scissors while struggling with security personnel, then fled from the store and got into a white SUV, taking local streets at slow speeds and even stopping for traffic signals while avoiding spike strips placed in his path.
The pursuit ended in the area of Ocean Boulevard and 14th Place, where the suspect refused to comply with deputies’ commands to exit the vehicle, according to Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez of the Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau.
“Approximately 15 minutes later, the suspect exited the vehicle with a large wooden stick in hand, again refusing to comply with deputies’ verbal commands,” she said.
Deputies used a less lethal “stunbag” in an attempt to safely detain him, but it had no effect and he ran off, Navarro-Suarez said.
“The suspect then encountered Long Beach Police Department officers, who were assisting on the containment, and a LBPD officer-involved shooting occurred,” she said.