Activist calls Torrey Pines HS shooting "dark moment," calls for release of police body cam video

Activist calls Torrey Pines HS shooting "dark moment," calls for release of police body cam video
Posted at 2:12 PM, May 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-07 17:14:55-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - An Arizona civil rights activist today called on the San Diego Police Department to release the body camera video from Saturday's officer-involved fatal shooting of a 15-year-old Torrey Pines High School freshman.

Rev. Jarrett Maupin of Phoenix made the comments to reporters and attendees at a conference on 21st century civil rights organizing in San Francisco.

"People are shocked, angry, frightened, and already questioning why body-camera footage isn't being made available as soon as possible," Maupin said in a statement distributed to reporters. "This should not happen in America and people want to know if what happened had to happen or if this unfortunate result was in any way avoidable" 

RELATED: Torrey Pines student shot, killed by police pointed BB gun at cops

Maupin said his office has already been flooded with calls from concerned parents and activists from all over California and other parts of the country.

"This dark moment is an opportunity for police leaders to shed redeeming light. Withholding the body-camera footage is cruel and unusual," Maupin said. "Only the truth will set the community free from the terror of justifiable speculation and uncertainty."

Officers shot and killed the boy, who was armed with a BB gun, after he called 911 to request officers check the welfare of a male juvenile in the parking lot at the front of the campus, according to homicide detectives.

The two officers, including a juvenile service team officer from the SDPD's Northwestern Division, responded shortly after 3:27 a.m. Saturday to 3710 Del Mar Heights Road in Carmel Valley, where the caller said the juvenile was unarmed, according to homicide Lt. Mike Holden.

"As the officers exited their patrol car, the subject pulled a handgun from his waistband and pointed it directly at one of the officers," Holden said. "Both officers drew their weapons while repeatedly giving the male commands to drop his handgun."

The boy refused to comply with the officers' commands to drop the gun, and instead continued to point it at the one officer and then began walking toward the same officer, according to Holden.

The boy was identified as a resident of the neighborhood, according to Holden. His family was notified, but his name was not released because he is a juvenile.

The officers who shot the suspect were a 28-year veteran and a 4-year veteran of the San Diego Police Department. Their names will be released in a few days per SDPD protocol and they will be reassigned to desk duty pending an internal investigation.

The San Dieguito Union High School District issued a statement addressed to families from Superintendent Eric Dill. "A crisis response team will be on the TPHS campus on Monday to support students, staff, and parents as needed," Dill said in the letter. "I know this is difficult, but we ask that you please refrain from conjecture or spreading rumors. As a community, we have a shared responsibility to care for one another. Please rest assured that we will do everything possible to maintain our daily routine while supporting each other as we deal with this sad event."

The incident was captured on video by body cameras the officers were wearing at the time.

"The purpose of body-camera footage is to provide an objective third party witness to an otherwise tense, volatile, and usually less than transparent interaction between law enforcement and the civilians they encounter on emergency calls" Maupin said, "When departments stall or resist releasing the footage, it can give the appearance of impropriety or a flat-out cover-up. The era we live in demands more information to be released sooner than ever before"

A makeshift memorial that was started Saturday, continued to grow Sunday, as well-wishers left flowers, candles and notes at the edge of the parking lot where the shooting occurred.