New video footage shows the final moments before a US police officer in Fresno, California, shooting an unarmed 16-year-old in the back of the head as he was fleeing, and then handcuffing the boy as he lied motionless on the ground.
The surveillance camera footage, which was released this week by the attorney of the victim’s family, shows the fatal shooting of Isiah Murrietta-Golding on April 14, 2017.
The footage has spread across the US, with critics calling it another example of extreme police violence and unjustified lethal force that would have received little attention if lawyers hadn’t published the video.
The footage shows the teenager running from officers, jumping a fence, falling to the ground and continuing to flee. One of the officers fired a single bullet into his head. Another officer then climbed over the fence, approached the boy’s limp body and handcuffed his hands behind his back.
The Fresno Police Department was pursuing Isiah to question him about a homicide involving his brother.
The video comes after the police department in Fresno, a city in California’s Central Valley, refused to release the footage while publicly stating that the killing was “justified”.
“The city was so adamant that the officer ‘feared for his life’,” Stuart Chandler, an attorney for Murrietta-Golding’s father, told the Guardian on Thursday.
“Why were they hiding the video? If a picture speaks a thousand words, then the video speaks a million words,” Chandler said.
The handcuffing after the fatal shot caught on video was especially upsetting to watch, the attorney added.
“He’s unconscious and in the process of dying. What is the threat?” said Chandler. “They just saw him as an animal who had been shot. They hunted a target. It’s inhumane.”
Chandler obtained the video following a civil lawsuit against the Fresno Police Department.
A paramedic report showed that police declined to remove the handcuffs when an ambulance arrived, with an officer saying police would only take them off later at the hospital.
Jerry Dyer, the Fresno police chief at the time of the shooting, has previously stated that the officer, Ray Villalvazo, thought “he was about to be shot”. Fresno’s current police chief, Andrew Hall, continued to defend the shooting as a justified use of deadly force in a statement this week.
The shooting happened nine months after Fresno police killed Dylan Noble, shooting the unarmed 19-year-old multiple times, including while he was lying on the ground, barely moving.
US police officers fatally shoot hundreds of people every year, with a disproportionate number of those being black.