Perhaps in order to address the public's perception that all deadly police shootings are focused on minorities in general, and blacks in particular, something we showed is not true recently, the Fresno police overnight released body camera videos showing two officers fatally shooting an unarmed white man amid renewed scrutiny across the United States over the use of force by police.
Dylan Noble was shot and killed on June 25 during a traffic stop by two unidentified police officers who thought the 19-year-old was armed, Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer told a news conference. Dyer said the decision to release them was based on public concern over how police handled the incident, which has sparked protests. "I am calling for calm in our community," he said. The release of the videos comes as police are under sharp scrutiny across the country over numerous high-profile police killings of unarmed black people, sparking widespread and sometimes destructive protests.
In the video, Noble - who subsequently was found to have been unarmed - appears to hide his hands behind his back and walk toward officers, disobeying commands to show his hands, get on the ground and stop advancing.
“I fucking hate my life,” Noble shouts a split-second before an officer shoots him twice. The video then shows Noble continue to reach toward his waist before he is shot twice more, including one shotgun blast from a second officer. The video does not appear to show Noble pulling his hand out “very quickly” before the shooting, however, as Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer told reporters last month.
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As WaPo reports, the incident began about 3:20 p.m. June 25, when Fresno police responded to a call from a woman who reported a man in a camouflage jacket walking around near the city’s airport while carrying a rifle.
Two officers in the area spotted Noble “peeling out” in his black pickup truck and pulled him over at a Chevron gas station. A body camera on the officer who drove the police vehicle captures him and his partner drawing their guns as they step from their squad car.
“Turn off the truck,” the officer says. “Get your hands out the window. Both hands out the window.”
Noble’s truck door appears to swing open.
“No, I didn’t tell you to get out,” the officer behind the camera continues. “Hey, let me see both your hands. Let me see both your hands.”
Noble appears to hold his left hand up but not his right.
“Let me see your hands. Get both your hands out. Both your hands,” the officer says, calling for backup. “Let me see your hands. Let me see your hands. Let me see your hands.”
“Both hands. Both hands,” says the partner as a third officer arrives and racks his shotgun. (His body-camera footage was also released Wednesday.)
“Get your hands out where we can see them,” shouts the first officer’s partner.
“Both your hands,” the first officer says.
“Other hand. Right hand up. Right hand up,” his partner says.
“I think we have a dog with us,” the officer with the shotgun says.
“Subject keeps reaching for his waistband,” the first officer says into his radio.
“He’s getting out of the car,” the officer with the shotgun shouts.
Multiple officers frantically shout for Noble to get on the ground.
“We don’t have a dog?” the officer with the shotgun asks.
“Let me see your hands,” the first officer tells Noble as he holds his right hand behind his back and walks toward them. “Stop, stop reaching. Stop.”
“Get down on the ground. Get down on the ground now. Get your f—ing ass on the ground,” the officer with the shotgun says. “Fresno Police Department. Drop whatever you have in your hand.”
“Drop,” the first officer says.
“If you come forward, you’re going to get shot, man,” the officer with the shotgun says.
“Stop,” the first officer says.
“Get on the ground now,” the officer with the shotgun says.
“I fucking hate my life,” Noble shouts.
Two shots, apparently fired by the first officer, ring out and Noble falls to the pavement on his stomach. An object — later determined to be a 4-by-4-inch piece of clear plastic, according to the Bee — falls to the ground.
“Shots fired, subject down,” the officer with the shotgun says into his radio.
“Get your hands up” the first officer says.
Noble then rolls onto his back.
“Let me see your hands,” the officer with the shotgun says.
Noble then appears to reach with his right hand toward his waistband.
“Keep your hands up,” the officer with the shotgun shouts. “I cannot see his hands.”
A third shot rings out, apparently fired by the first officer.
“Dude, keep your hands out,” the officer with the shotgun says.
“Don’t reach with your hands,” the first officer says.
“Quit reaching for what you’ve got,” the officer with the shotgun says. “Keep your hands out. Dude, if you reach one more time, you will get shot again. Stop.”
Noble’s right hand moves again toward his waistband.
“Dude,” the officer with the shotgun says, firing once at Noble.
“Dude, do not reach again, please,” the officer with the shotgun says.
Noble was taken to a local hospital but died during surgery, according to the Los Angeles Times.
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A view from the second body cam:
Two days later, Dyer, the police chief, told reporters that the shooting was a “tragedy” but that body-camera footage of the incident showed why officers “felt, at least in their minds,” the need to open fire. He said the footage showed Noble pulling his hand out “very quickly” before he was shot, adding that, like Noble’s parents, he was baffled by the incident.
“We’re talking about a 19-year-old young man who doesn’t have any criminal history, and we’re trying to figure out why this occurred,” he said, according to the Bee.
"Some of this video will answer many of the questions that are out there in this community," Dyer said. "However, I also believe this video is going to raise questions just as those questions exist in my mind as well."
Dyer said questions remain as to whether the last two shots that were fired by police when Noble was lying on the ground were necessary.
“Were the last two rounds fired by the officers necessary? Based on a reasonable fear, did the officers have to use deadly force? I do not have the answer to that today,” Dyer said, according to the Guardian. “That video was extremely disturbing to watch.”
Dyer added that he hoped the video, which Noble’s family had called on him to release, would not unleash more violence. “Tensions are high,” he said, according to the Associated Press. “In some cases, we are one spark away from a forest fire. And I pray this video doesn’t serve as that spark.”
The object in Noble’s hand is being investigated by the Justice Department, the Bee reported. According to the Times, it contained malleable clay.
A criminal and an internal affairs investigation are ongoing. Noble's mother has filed a wrongful-death claim against the department, local media reported.
When one Black Lives Matter supporter tweeted Friday that the movement “stands with Dylan Noble,” she was attacked from all sides. “It was suicide by cop,” wrote one commenter who criticized the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Why do you believe the movement stands with him?” asked a Black Lives Matter sympathizer. “It was believed he was flying his confederate flag when shot.”
His friends and family say Noble should be remembered simply as a fun-loving country boy who deserved more than to die in a gas station parking lot.
“They executed him,” Darren Noble told YourCentralValley.com on Wednesday. “There was no reason for them to even have guns drawn down on him for a traffic stop.”
Warren Paboojian, the father’s attorney, admitted that Noble did not follow officers’ commands but said police could have used non-lethal means of subduing him, including a K-9 reportedly at the scene.
“They were telling a young boy, who may have been under the influence of some alcohol, to do a bunch of commands for a routine traffic stop,” he said.
Paboojian added that the family had at least one thing in common with the officers who killed Noble.
“We don’t want any more violence or any threats to police officers or anyone else,” he said.