Los Angeles (AFP) – Police in a California city fatally shot a black man who had been acting erratically, prompting protesters to quickly gather and accuse officers of an unjustified killing.
The shooting Tuesday afternoon in El Cajon, 15 miles (24 kilometers) east of San Diego, was the latest in a string of killings of black men by police that have fueled outrage across America.
Two police officers encountered the unidentified man, who was in his 30s, behind a restaurant after receiving reports of someone “not acting like himself” and walking in traffic, El Cajon police said in a statement.
The man, who was pacing back and forth, refused officers’ orders to take his hand out of his pocket, police said.
According to the police account, at one point, as the officers tried to talk to the man, he “rapidly drew an object from his front pants pocket, placed both hands together and extended them rapidly toward the officer taking up what appeared to be a shooting stance.”
Police Chief Jeff Davis did not say what the object was, but told a news conference that no firearm was recovered.
The officer whom the man was pointing at fired his weapon “several times,” while the second officer simultaneously fired his Taser, police said.
They released a photograph taken from video footage, showing the man in a black tank top and blue jeans seemingly aiming at the officer.
Protesters quickly gathered at the scene and accused police of gunning the man down without warning.
“They came out, guns drawn, three of them, and they shot him five times,” protester Rumbideai Mubaiwa told local news station KUSI, summarizing the version of events circulating in the crowd of about 100 people.
“No one warned him, told him to freeze, to stop, anything. And another unarmed black man killed,” she said.
The deaths of black men at the hands of police have spurred protests across America, most recently last week in the North Carolina city of Charlotte.
The death of Keith Lamont Scott, 43, triggered days of unrest, forcing the governor to declare a state of emergency and deploy the National Guard.