SDPD Releases Footage of Deadly Police Shooting in City Heights

Police say the man aimed what was believed to be a firearm in the direction of officers and refused commands to drop it and step away. The weapon was later determined to be an Air-Soft gun

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The San Diego Police Department released officer-worn camera footage from a deadly police shooting Thursday in City Heights.

Warning: The footage contains graphic imagery and language.

SDPD said the video shows the man refusing orders to back away from a handgun that he had dropped on the ground, and picking it up and aiming it at officers. The gun was later determined to be an Air-Soft gun, SDPD said.

Video recorded by a witness in a nearby home shows the man pointing the gun in the direction of officers while refusing orders to drop it.

Multiple officers fired at the man causing him to fall to the ground.

SDPD shot and killed the man in the City Heights area on July 9, 2020.

"While on the ground, the man was still moving and in control of the weapon and had it pointed in the officers' direction, prompting a second volley of shots," SDPD explained in the video.

In total, seven officers fired their service weapons at the man, according to SDPD. Once officers were able to get close to the man, it was determined the weapon was an Air-Soft gun.

The shooting was reported at around 4 p.m. on Menlo Avenue near El Cajon Boulevard.

SDPD officers first made contact with the man at around 4 p.m. in response to reports of an armed man in the area. Detectives said two women were driving down Menlo Avenue when the man allegedly pointed a gun at them.

"The man manipulated the slide of the gun as if he were loading it and pointed the gun towards the women," SDPD said in a press release.

The women drove away and called 911, according to SDPD Lt. Matt Dobbs.

When officers made contact with the man, they demanded he put his hands in the air. As he was doing so, a gun fell to the ground, police said.

Police shot and killed a man who they say pointed a gun at them in City Heights. NBC 7's Jackie Crea has more.

"The male initially complied and raised his hands, at which point a firearm fell from his clothing onto the ground near him. They continued to give him directions to back away from the weapon but he refused to comply," Dobbs said Thursday.

SDPD said as they continued to try to get the man to comply with orders, a K-9 unit was en route.

But before backup could arrive, the man then picked the gun up and pointed it at officers, and that's when several officers fired their weapons, according to Dobbs.

“The male was struck at least one time and fell to the ground still in direct possession of the weapon," he said.

Dobbs said the officers continued to shout commands at the man. When they got no response, they fired beanbag rounds at the man and deployed a K-9.

Officers gave the man CPR but he was later pronounced dead at the scene. The man has not yet been identified other than being described as a man in his 30s or 40s.

SDPD's Homicide Unit is investigating the shooting and it will be reviewed by the District Attorney's Office, the department's Internal Affairs Unit, the Community Review Board on Police Practices, and the FBI, according to SDPD.

NBC 7 spoke with two witnesses who recorded the shooting on their cell phones.

Winona Bolten was grabbing her mail outside her front door when she saw the commotion on the street. The walked a little closer and started recording.

"As soon as I switched over to go live on Facebook the violence came out," she remembered. "I'm like, why did they shoot him if he was laying down on the ground?"

Bolton's video shows several officers with their guns drawn, and a chorus of gunfire can be heard as she runs back toward her apartment in fear.

Another witness was delivering packages on Menlo Avenue. Her video shows several police cars stopped in the middle of the street, and yelling can be heard from a distance. Minutes later she gets out of her van and crosses the street to a point where she can see the man.

"I guess this guy right here has a gun," she said.

Seconds after she crosses back to the other side of the street, dozens of gunshots rang out. When she saw the man laying on the ground, her shock turned to disbelief.

"I am beyond shocked right now," she said to the camera. "What just happened? They just killed somebody."

All the officers involved, all with SDPD's Mid-City Division, were placed on administrative duty.

An investigation will be completed by SDPD's Homicide Unit, which will then be reviewed by the San Diego County District Attorney's Office, which will determine if there was any criminal wrongdoing. SDPD will also conduct and Internal Affairs investigation to determine if there were any policy violations. That investigation will be reviewed by the Shooting Review Board and the Community Review Board on Police Practices.

SDPD's investigation process has been criticized by community activists. In November, voters will get to decide whether to overhaul the current review board and replace it with an independent commission with subpoena power and an independent counsel.

No other information is available.

Check back for updates on this breaking news story.

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