Oakland, CA – After a police officer claimed he shot and killed a man because he refused to drop his gun, Body Cam footage has been released that shows the man was on his knees and his hands were empty when the officer shot him three times in the back.
Shaleem Tindle, 28, was killed by a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police officer on Jan. 3, and while a short clip of the Body Cam footage was released by his family recently, the full video was released by police this week.
The initial claim made by Officer Joseph Mateu was that he was at the West Oakland BART station when he heard gunshots. He ran out of the station and across the street, which is shown in the footage from his Body Camera, and he confronted two men who were in a scuffle on the ground.
“Let me see your hands,” Mateu yelled multiple times as he ran across the street towards the men with his gun drawn. Within seconds, Mateu opened fire on the men, hitting them both with several consecutive shots.
Mateu claimed the reason he began shooting was that Tindle clearly had a gun in his hands. However, the video shows that after Tindle was shot in the back, he rolled over with his hands in the air—both of which were empty.
LaRon Mayfield told NBC Bay Area that he believes his brother was unarmed and had no idea that the man who was yelling at him was a police officer.
"It was an unjustified murder, and it wasn’t right,” Mayfield said. "My brother didn’t even know who shot him until he turned around with hands up, and then he saw it was the police. My brother didn’t have no gun in his hand."
BART Police Chief Carlos Rojas has insisted that there is a black object on the ground in the video that could be a gun. He told The Mercury News that the department still supports Mateu’s claims, and he asked the public to respect the “natural course of the investigation.”
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“I think it does present problems when we’re trying to protect the integrity of the investigation,” Rojas said. “We do have to remember it is evidence that is graphic and desired by a lot of people to view … The video of just one piece of evidence … it does take the investigation out of context.”
However, the department did not clarify as to whether the object on the ground was, in fact, a gun. They also did not mention who they believed the owner of the object was, and why the two men were engaged in a physical altercation.
Tindle died from injuries sustained during the shooting and the other man was injured after he was shot in the leg by the officer.
Tindle’s family is heartbroken, and they have openly called for Mateu to face murder charges. They have also indicated that they plan on filing a wrongful death lawsuit against BART Police and Mateu, seeking damages for Sahleem Tindle’s “heinous and wholly unjustified” death.
The family’s attorney, John Burris, said in a statement reported by the East Bay Times that the Body Cam footage is disturbing and clearly shows “the shooting was not justified.”
“There is no lawful or justifiable reason, for Officer Mateu to fire three shots into Sahleem’s back,” Burris said. “Any suggestion that Sahleem was armed and uncooperative is simply an attempt to demonize Sahleem and provide a false justification for Sahleem’s unlawful murder at the hands of Officer Mateu.”
While the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office and the Oakland Police Department claim to be investigating the incident, Chief Rojas confirmed that Officer Joseph Mateu returned to his job less than two weeks after the shooting.