Video of California officers shooting unarmed man released

July 15, 2015

crime sceneA federal judge has ordered the release of a police video that shows three Southern California officers opening fire on and killing an unarmed 35-year-old man who was mistakenly suspected of stealing a bicycle. [LA Times]

In the June 2013 incident, Richard Diaz Zeferino, 35, was actually helping search for the stolen bicycle, which belonged to a friend of his. Three Gardena police officers stopped Zeferino and two others and ordered them to keep their hands up.

Zeferino, who appeared confused, repeatedly dropped and raised his hands. He also stepped backward and forward a few paces.

After Zeferino removed a baseball cap from his head, all three officers opened fire. Zeferino was struck eight times by bullets.

One of Zeferino’s friends was also wounded in the shooting, but survived.

Attorneys for the city of Gardena argued Zeferino repeatedly ignored police orders and reached into his pockets and waistband area. Gardena settled a lawsuit over the shooting for $4.7 million, but the city has fought to keep the video sealed.

The Los Angels Times, Associated Press and Bloomberg requested that the footage be released.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson ordered the release of the video. Wilson said the public had an interest in seeing the recording.

“The fact that they spent the city’s money, presumably derived from taxes, only strengthens the public’s interest in seeing the videos,” Wilson wrote.

After Wilson issued his ruling, Gardena appealed and obtained an order from a 9th circuit judge to keep the footage under seal. The LA Times had already published the video, though.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office did not file charges against the three officers — Christopher Mendez, Christopher Sanderson and Matthew Toda. The district attorney’s office said it was reasonable for the officers to think Zeferino was reaching for a weapon.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Here we go again with ‘cops are all evil and out to get us’

No different than when someone with a gun or a certain flag does something bad, then we must treat all gun owners or flag carriers as if they are just like this one bad person.

A big problem is that the LE seem to have an unwritten rule ” between themselves”. If one of them panics and shoots, then THEY ALL SHOOT. What we saw on this video was a literal LE gang murder. Brave (?) I think not. Cowardly and in the wrong profession is more the case.

Yes I know he didn’t follow instructions, some people get confused when orders are being barked and yelled especially when they haven’t done anything wrong to begin with. Then the people who are in charge coverup and pay out huge sums with our tax $$. This simply isn’t acceptable.

We the people have to draw a line and insist on better training, more education rather than 6 months in an academy and more comprehensive and frequent psych exams.

Cowardly is a good adjective. LEOs are trained not to shoot until they can identify a weapon. Shooting simulators in the academies even use objects like cellphones to try to trick officers into shooting when they should not; most guys pass with flying colors, some do not.

The perception that policing is a dangerous job and therefore a preemptive shooting is justified doesn’t jive with the facts. Police work is one of the safer jobs in America, doesn’t come close to cracking the top ten for dangerous work. This fact is easy to google.

In my opinion, part of the problem is in given hiring credits to vets. Many of our guys come back with PTSD, and at least a much lower threshold for using violence to get compliance. Do we really want that warrior mentality on our streets? Most older cops I know say that the approach to serving warrants and making arrests has gone from knocking on doors in daylight to kicking them under cover of darkness, and it has not been driven by actual danger to the officers.

One good clue: None of the victims/ suspect were in possession of the stolen bicycle.

The victim was understandably frustrated that the real thieves are getting away!

Shoot first and skip the questions later. Then, write a check. Then, repeat again next week.

Our police are receiving terrible training and they are walking around with a hair trigger mentality. The darker the suspect’s skin, the quicker they fire. Grandmothers, babies, and everyone in between are included in the body count.. We should start deducting the cost of these lawsuits from their paychecks. We must do something more to reduce the danger to the citizens.

You cant shoot someone because you THINK someone is going for a weapon. You have to see a weapon and or have said weapon used against you. The use of force laws were not followed and the officers actions are being white washed. Infantry soldiers exercise more restraint and display more valor!

A good reason to make ENGLISH the one and only language.

The City of New York has an annual budget of 2/3 of a BILLION DOLLARS for excessive force settlements.

they rather pay out money than apologize, very proud, pride precedes

Of Course, normal and expected.

Most victims don’t have the money to retain an attorney yet alone try to fight the police department.

In the end the LE administrator will ask for more revenue to provide better training and attract so-called better candidates.

Thank God for the un-twisted, un-distorted camera truth!

This is sanctioned murder, plain and simple. One would hope for Mosaic justice, or that these perps in blue should be forced to pay as much of the fine as they can lay hands on, and then work for 29 cents an hour for a call center in prison to make up the rest.