Los Angeles – Dash cam videos that the city of Gardena fought to keep secret show police officers fatally shooting Ricardo Zeferino 8 times. Zeferino did not appear to pose any immediate threat. Police wounded a second man.
The city of Gardena fought to keep the dash cam video from being released, but after the city settled a $4.7 million lawsuit over the shooting, a federal judge ordered it be made public.
The Los Angeles Times and other news groups fought to have the video unsealed, arguing that nationwide, there was intense public scrutiny over police shootings
Gardena immediately sought an order from the appellate court to stop the district court from enforcing its order and releasing the videos. A judge with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals granted the request. By then, The Times had obtained the videos from the district court and posted them on YouTube and on its website.
The dash cam videos show two perspectives of the incident. Both show police ordering the men to raise their hands. One of the men keeps his hands raised throughout. The other lowers and raises them several times, at one point removing his cap. The officers respond by opening fire.
U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson’s decision came a day after he said that records could only be kept under seal in federal court in extreme cases.
Wilson rejected arguments by the city of Gardena seeking to keep the recordings under seal. The city claimed that it had settled a civil rights lawsuit over the shooting in the belief that the videos would remain under seal.
The shooting occurred after police responded to a call about a bicycle stolen from outside a CVS drugstore on Western Avenue. A police dispatcher mistakenly told officers that the crime was a robbery, which usually involves a theft using weapons or force, and officers headed to the area in search of two suspects. Sgt. Christopher Cuff saw two men riding bicycles east on Redondo Beach Boulevard.
The men were friends of the bike theft victim and were searching for the missing bicycle. Mistaking them for the thieves, Cuff ordered the men to stop and put their hands up, according to a district attorney’s memo written by a prosecutor who reviewed the police videos. Ricardo Zeferino, whose brother owned the stolen bicycle, ran up to his friends as they stood before the police car.
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