Sciota, PA — Last December, Christian Joseph Hall, 19, was in the midst of a mental health crisis and wanted to die. He positioned himself on top of an overpass on I-80 leading to police closing off the road and engaging with him. Moments after police arrived, however, Hall would be dead. Now, nearly a year later we finally have video evidence showing Hall with his hands in the air when police killed him.
Though video was released last year, the final moments of when police actually fired their rounds remained blurred. This week, however, Spotlight PA has released the unredacted version given to them by Hall's parents, showing that the teen had his hands in the air when police opened fire.
Originally, police claimed they encountered Hall "standing near the bridge and in possession of a firearm." Troopers spoke with Hall and ordered him to place his firearm on the ground, which he did, according to a state police news release. The "firearm" was an airsoft gun.
Police then claimed Hall changed his tone and became a threat. “As troopers continued to negotiate with Hall regarding the incident, Hall became uncooperative and retrieved the firearm and began walking towards the troopers,” police said. Police said he then pointed the gun in their direction, and they fired, hitting Hall, who was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Multiple news outlets ran with this narrative in late December after Hall was killed. It was a cut and dry case of police claiming something happened and no one having any evidence to the contrary — until now.
As the video shows, Hall never once appears to walk toward the officers and, in fact, had his hands in the air when the gun shots rang out. Hall then doubles over from the bullets and collapses to the ground.
As Spotlight PA reports, the full version of the videos — obtained by Spotlight PA from Hall’s parents, whose lawyer received them through a subpoena — shows that Hall kept his hands above his head for 14 seconds in all. The videos show that Hall’s hands were still in the air, the gun in one hand, as two troopers fired another series of shots and he crumpled to the ground.
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This unredacted video backs up another grainy video from earlier this year that was posted to Twitter by attorney Ben Crump.
In that video, the people filming react in shock after watching police shoot and kill a teenager with his hands in the air. After Hall collapses below the guardrail, the two officers are seen moving in in a low profile tactical maneuver before the video cuts out.
At no time does the video show Hall point a gun or walk toward the officers as they claimed after the shooting in December.
The video below shows a murder, not a justified police shooting like everyone has been told for nearly a year.
After the release of the new video, Hall's parents are calling for the troopers who killed him to be charged. “I would like to see an unbiased investigation take place,” said Gareth Hall, Christian’s father. “I personally would like to see those police officers brought up on charges." “Everybody knows when you put your hands in the air that's the universal sign of surrender,” Crump said. “Why use the most excessive force?”
Sadly, the way the cops handled this case is par for the course. Because so many police departments treat the mentally ill like targets at the range, innocent and often unarmed people in a health crisis end up with police bullets in them instead of receiving the help they need.
This plays out like a broken record across the country on a near daily basis and very little changes. Instead of pushing violable solutions like sending mental health experts instead of cops, ending qualified immunity, ending the drug war, requiring cops to carry personal liability insurance, and ending predatory policing, the debate becomes muddied by those focusing on other factors that are major but present no real solutions.
A racist oppressor will always be a racist oppressor, but if you eliminate his ability to oppress with impunity by implementing the solutions mentioned above, you begin to weed out all the racist oppressors. These solutions create an environment that expels these types of racist authoritarians instead of harbors them. Simply calling cops racists, while true for many cops, does nothing to force real change.