Video shows fatal OIS of suspect charging at Calif. cops with shovel
This is the first time police video has been released under new legislation
San Diego Union-Tribune
SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Police Department on Tuesday released body-worn camera footage from the deadly police shooting of a man who charged at officers with a shovel in August.
The release marks the first time video has been put out by the department under Assembly Bill 748, a police transparency law that went into effect in July. The bill requires police agencies statewide to release body-worn camera and other video and audio recordings of shootings and serious uses of force within 45 days unless doing so would interfere with an ongoing investigation.
Tuesday’s release includes the 911 call preceding the shooting, several minutes of body-worn camera footage and a video message from San Diego police Chief David Nisleit.
“In presenting this video, we are not coming to any conclusions about what happened in this incident... ,” Nisleit said. “The use of deadly force generates many questions from community members. We hope the release of this video begins to answer some of those questions.”
The shooting happened about 7:50 p.m. on Aug. 24 in the backyard of a home in the El Cerrito neighborhood. Officers were sent to the residence after a woman called 911, saying her nephew had thrown a brick at her.
When police arrived, the woman explained that her nephew, 52-year-old Dennis Carolino, had gotten upset when she asked him to clean himself up and checked whether he had been taking his medication. Body-worn camera footage shows the woman leading officers to a shed where she suspected her nephew was hiding.
“He’s out of his mind,” she can be heard saying.
As officers approached, the man popped out of the shed, the video shows. Officers can be heard saying, “Let me see your hands” and “Drop it” as the man runs toward them with a shovel. Officer Jose Mendez shot the man with his Taser while Officer Brad Keyes fired his handgun.
Carolino was shot multiple times and died of his injuries.
Family members said Carolino suffered from mental illness for a number of years and lived at the home on Adelaide Avenue with his two aunts. In the aftermath of the incident, they questioned the necessity of the shooting.
“We call the cops for help, but they’re not supposed to kill your loved ones,” Grace McLain, Carolino’s cousin, said hours after the incident. “We heard from neighbors that there were four or five gunshots. That’s bothering us.”
Nisleit said in his video message that while officer-involved shootings profoundly affect many members of community, no one in this instance was more impacted than the Carolino family.
Once the department’s homicide unit completes its investigation into the shooting, the case will be forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office, which will determine if the actions of the officers were legally justified.
Tuesday’s video was produced by a company called Critical Incident Videos, department spokesman Lt. Shawn Takeuchi said. He added that it’s unclear whether the department will release video from every significant use of force in the same fashion. Takeuchi didn’t know how much the video cost to produce.
Department officials have said they plan to release footage whenever possible, but not every department is interpreting the bill in the same way.
Sheriff’s Department officials said in September that they do not intend to release body-worn camera footage of deputy shootings until they’ve been reviewed by the District Attorney’s Office, a stance that’s in line with the current county protocol that governs the release of video from law enforcement shootings.
Although the new California law states body-worn camera footage should be released within 45 days, there are a number of exceptions included in the bill’s language. Departments can request a yearlong extension if investigators fear disclosing the video would substantially interfere with an investigation. Agencies can also withhold a video if there are concerns they wouldn’t be able to adequately protect the privacy of someone in the footage.
It’s unclear which exception the Sheriff’s Department plans to cite.
San Diego police officials acknowledged they may cite exceptions in the future as well, depending on the case.