Police fatally shoot man during altercation outside San Bernardino liquor store
A police officer fatally shot a man during an altercation that was partially captured on video Thursday night outside a liquor store in San Bernardino.
The man, identified as Mark Matthew Bender Jr., 35, died at a local hospital, Sgt. John Echevarria said. Echevarria said Bender had “retrieved a weapon from his pocket” during the struggle.
“When the officer saw that he had a weapon, he defended himself with his firearm,” Echevarria said, adding that detectives at the scene found a handgun Bender allegedly drew from his pocket before he was shot.
The San Bernardino Police Department published footage from the officer’s body camera that showed the fatal encounter, which lasted just one minute. The officer, who hasn’t been identified, responded a little after 11 p.m. Thursday to a report of a man “jumping on vehicles” in the parking lot of King Tut Liquor in the 200 block of East Base Line Street, Echevarria said.
The video shows the officer approaching Bender in the parking lot, his gun drawn. “Hey man, come here,” the officer says.
“Why do you have a gun on me?” Bender asks, walking away.
“Let me see your hands,” the officer says. Bender briefly raises his hands, then moves them down near his waistline and pockets as he walks toward the liquor store’s entrance.
“Man, I’m going to the store,” he says. “Don’t touch me. Don’t touch me.”
A struggle ensues, and the footage from the body camera becomes difficult to make out.
“Get on the ground,” the officer can be heard saying. “Stop moving! Stop fighting!”
Video from the scene, taken by a bystander and obtained by KTLA-TV, shows the officer flipping Bender over and onto the sidewalk in front of the liquor store. Straddling Bender, who is lying facedown, the officer says, “Stop fighting, dude.”
“What are you doing?” Bender says, as he shrugs the officer off his back and stands up. He says, “Get off,” and he appears to be holding a dark object in his right hand. The officer backs away and fires four rounds in quick succession, according to the video.
From the bystander video, it appears that Bender’s back was turned to the officer when the rounds were fired. In a statement, the San Bernardino police said Bender had begun to turn toward the officer when he fired his weapon.
Detectives at the scene found a loaded, 9mm handgun that Bender had drawn from his pocket, according to police.
Bender, a Black resident of San Bernardino, was shot multiple times and pronounced dead at a local hospital, Echevarria said.
During a news conference Friday morning, the police sought to portray him as physically intimidating, listing his height and weight — 6 feet 3 and 300 pounds — and cataloging what they called his “lengthy criminal past,” prompting one bystander to remark, “What does that have to do with him being murdered?”
The shooting comes at a fraught time for police departments across the country. A series of highly publicized encounters with police that left Black people dead or seriously injured in Minneapolis; Louisville, Ky.; Kenosha, Wis.; and elsewhere have strained tensions in many cities between police departments and residents of the streets they patrol.
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