The family of a man shot and killed by a San Diego officer Wednesday is demanding the police department meet with them and show them body-worn camera footage and other evidence from its investigation.
Vaughn Denham, 49, was shot by a San Diego Police Department (SDPD) officer in Southcrest following an altercation between him and another man.
Denham’s family put out a press release Friday asking for police officials to meet with them and show them footage of the incident so that they could “understand the full picture of what transpired.”
The release said they want their questions answered and the names of the officers involved released to the public.
Family, friends and community members gathered in Southcrest Friday near the location Denham was shot for a vigil. There, NBC 7 spoke to Denham’s niece, Voneva Denham, who claimed her uncle was murdered.
“We’re here today to pay respect to my uncle who was murdered and to request that we are able to see the footage of the police officer who shot him and also any footage they have of things leading up to his death,” she said.
Officers responded to the intersection of Boston Avenue and 40th Street Wednesday around 5:30 p.m. after witnesses reported a man was attacking another man with a machete.
Officers arrived to find a 57-year-old man bloodied from injuries “consistent with an edged weapon attack.”
They found Denham nearby on the 1100 block of 40th Street with a three to four-foot metal chain, police said. After refusing multiple commands to drop the chain, Denham began swinging it at an SDPD officer.
SDPD says the officer shot Denham with a Taser but it was ineffective. Then he fired at him with his gun and struck him at least once.
Police say there was an ensuing struggle after Denham was shot but he was eventually taken into custody. He was transported to UCSD Medical Center and died hours later.
SDPD Lt. Dobbs told NBC 7 Friday that the department has been in contact with Denham’s family privately. Voneva Denham confirmed that police officials reached out to the family and agreed and show them body-worn camera footage, but no meeting was scheduled.
Denham's sister who lives in Texas told NBC 7 that the altercation between Denham and the other man started because the other man was talking about child molestation. She also said that Denham was on drugs at the time of his death.
Charity Apostolic Church Bishop Cornelius Bowser was at the vigil Friday and called for policy change that will strengthen trust between the community and police departments.
"When are we going to move from justifiable homicide to avoidable homicide? Those are the thoughts that come to mind. When are we going to get to a place where we learn to de-escalate?" he said.