Police in Los Angeles have been accused of ‘heavily editing’ bodycam footage showing the arrest of a man who later died in custody.
Luis Carrillo, the attorney for the family of Jose Chavez, hit out at the LAPD’s video and called for the department to release an unedited version along with a complete autopsy report detailing Chavez’s injuries. “[The footage is] highly produced, heavily edited, and slanted in favor of the LAPD, and still leaves many questions unanswered,” he said in a statement cited by Associated Press.
The video, which is introduced by the department’s spokesman Josh Rubenstein, and Commander Alan Hamilton, the chief of the unit that investigates police use of force, shows edited bodycam footage of LAPD officers responding to a complaint of a suspected prowler in the Newton area of the city on May 6.
When officers arrive at the scene, they discover Chavez, 25, who was said to have been wandering around the neighborhood with a brick in his hand, standing in the street. As the 18-minute video jumps forward in time, Hamilton, acting as narrator, summarizes large portions of the two-hour standoff between Chavez and police.
The police video culminates with Chavez apparently huffing motor oil before brandishing a metal pipe. As a helicopter circles overhead, a team of officers shoot Chavez repeatedly with shotguns loaded with less-lethal bean bag shells. When he tries to flee, they taser the man and put handcuffs on him. His breathing later became labored and he was taken to hospital, where he died an hour later.
Chavez’s family claims that cellphone footage taken by eyewitnesses at the scene shows a different version of events to those portrayed by police. In a cellphone video, a passive Chavez can be seen offering a white flower to police.
The cause of Chavez’s death has reportedly not yet been confirmed by the LA County Coroner. At a news conference to release the video, LAPD chief Charlie Beck said the department planned to release up to 50 “community briefing” videos a year as part of a new policy requiring that footage of “critical incidents” involving the death of a civilian be made available to the public within 45 days.
In May, Telemundo reported that the man’s family planned to sue the LAPD for wrongful death. “He did not deserve to die this way,” said his sister, Isabel Chavez. “We only want justice for him.”
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