Q&A: What we know so far about the fatal El Cajon police shooting

The shooting of an African American man by El Cajon police Tuesday has sparked protests and also questions about the amount of information released by authorities.

Q: Is there a videotape of the shooting?

Yes. Police Chief Jeff Davis said a witness voluntarily gave police a tape showing the shooting. Davis agreed to release a still photo from the footage but has declined to release the entire video, saying the investigation was ongoing.

He said new San Diego County protocol embargoes footage of officer-involved shootings until the District Attorney’s Office investigates them.

Were the officers wearing body cameras?


El Cajon police officers are not equipped with body-worn cameras. The department recently completed a pilot program and ordered some cameras but officers have not yet been equipped, Lt. Rob Ransweiler said.

What does the still photo released show?

Davis said officers fired on the man after he clasped both his hands with an object inside and pointed at officers in a “shooting stance.” The photo shows the man with his hands together, his arms pointed toward one of the officers. Police have not said what the object was.

What is the general rule with police releasing videos?

Police departments have generally said they don’t plan to release videos of incidents taken from police body cameras and car cameras, citing privacy and other issues. But in two recent high-profile cases, police departments agreed to release these videos — in Charlotte, N.C., last week and in Fresno this summer.

In the Fresno case, police had come under criticism in the fatal shooting of an unarmed 19-year-old man. Chief Jerry Dyer said he took the unusual step of releasing the video to show the public what happened.

Law enforcement agencies have welcomed cameras affixed to officers and inside patrol cars. Yet many departments oppose making their videos public, citing the privacy of officers and victims.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck has said he did not expect to disclose footage in the majority of cases.

Civil rights groups have demanded that such videos regularly be released to the public.

El Cajon Police Chief Jeff Davis urged the public to let the investigation unfold before making any judgments about the shooting.

What exactly led to the confrontation in El Cajon?

Police received several reports of a man acting erratically and walking in traffic along a strip mall on Broadway near Mollison Avenue shortly after 2 p.m.

A woman who called police mentioned her brother was mentally ill, Davis said, adding that police were investigating that statement.

Two officers found the man behind Los Panchos taco shop on Broadway, near an apartment building and the Broadway Village Shopping Center.

Davis said the man failed to comply with multiple instructions from an officer and concealed a hand in a pocket of his pants. The officer brandished a gun and continued to give the man commands.

A second officer got there and brandished a stun gun.

At one point the man took out an object from the front pocket of his pants, grasped it with both hands, and “extended it rapidly toward the officers” as he stood in a position that suggested he would shoot, Davis said.

One officer fired the stun gun as the other fired the handgun, Davis said.

Do people dispute the police account?

Yes. Protesters — including family members of the victim — say the man was mentally ill and posed no threat to the officers.

Some people said they saw the man with his hands in the air, a claim police later disputed.


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