Gardena Police Shooting Square
Gardena Police Shooting Square

Federal Judge Orders Release Of 2013 Video Showing Gardena, CA Police Fatally Shooting Unarmed Man

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Warning: The content of the video linked to below is extremely disturbing, violent and graphic in its nature. Use discretion when viewing.

New video of Gardena, California police fatally shooting an unarmed man has been made public, following the orders of a federal judge. The video documents an altercation that took place on June 2nd, 2013, in which Ricardo Diaz Zeferino, 35, raises and lowers his hands in a seemingly-confused manner just before police open fire, knocking him off his feet with gunshots. Diaz Zeferino soon after died of his injuries.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Diaz Zeferino and two other men visible in the video had been suspected of bicycle theft just before the fatal shooting. Laser sight dots from the officers' pistols can be clearly seen on Diaz Zeferino's shirt just before he begins removing his baseball cap, at which point numerous shots ring out. Another man in the video was injured in the torrent of bullets. "The district attorney’s office declined to file charges against the officers," the LA Times writes. "Deputy Dist. Atty. Rosa Alarcon wrote in a memo about the shooting that Diaz Zeferino’s right hand was no longer visible from the officers’ angle and that it was reasonable for them to believe he was reaching for a weapon."

“They made a split-second decision and they were not required to hold fire in order to ascertain whether Diaz would, in fact, injure or kill them,” Alarcon wrote.

The video evidence clearly tells a different, however, and became part of a civil suit brought against the city of Gardena by Diaz Zeferino's family. According to The Washington Post, that case was settled for $4.7 million, but U.S. District Court Judge Stephen V. Wilson demanded that the footage be unsealed and made available to the public, noting that the shame of both the city of Gardena and its police force was not, in fact, a good enough reason to keep it under sraps.. “[T]he fact that they spent the city’s money, presumably derived from taxes, only strengthens the public’s interest in seeing the videos," Wilson wrote. "Moreover, defendants cannot assert a valid compelling interest in sealing the videos to cover up any wrongdoing on their part or to shield themselves from embarrassment.”

The LA Times also reports that the officers involved in the shooting were still on patrol as recently as this May, and that under California law, whatever discipline they received must remain confidential. Watch the newly-released video of the fatal Gardena shooting incident via the LA Times website, and please keep in mind that the footage is extremely graphic and could be disturbing to some.