Another fatal shooting of a black man by LAPD renews body cam debate

By Pooja Paidipalli
Staff Writer

An increasing number of controversial shootings by police has put the Los Angeles Law Enforcement in the spotlight, according to the Los Angeles Times. Protests continued throughout the city after a Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officer shot and killed an 18-year-old black man, Carnell Snell Jr., who was carrying a handgun on Saturday, Oct. 1.

Police attempted to pull over a car with paper license plates that they assumed was stolen, according to NBC. After a short chase, Snell jumped out of the back seat and tried to escape.

“They observed him remove a handgun from his waistband and hold it in his left hand,” LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said, according to NBC.

Snell was shot after a short pursuit. He sustained two bullet wounds after being shot six times, according to CNN. The LAPD did not yet release the name of the officer who shot Snell.

NBC reported that the LAPD has released minimal information about the investigation. However, it did disclose that a fully loaded handgun was found at the scene, but the firearm had not been fired.

“Body-worn cameras have not been deployed in the division where the shooting occurred,” Beck said.

In the weekend following the shooting, people were protesting outside of the LAPD Headquarters in Downtown Los Angeles, as well as at Mayor Eric Garcetti’s residence, according to NBC. The same news outlet reported that four arrests were made.

There were also memorials for Snell near his home. NBC reported that Snell’s home was near the residence in which the shooting occurred. Residents, friends and family left candles and flowers to honor Snell’s memory.

Snell’s great aunt, Carlena Hall, told the Los Angeles Times that Snell suffered from mental illness, and that he had been arrested several times and often ran from police officers out of fear.

“That gun was never meant to be a threat to the Police Department,” Hall said.

Snell was the third black man to be shot in the five days following confrontations with police in the southern California area, according to NBC.

Although the decision was made to release the security camera footage from a nearby store of Snell being shot to the public, Beck was criticized for hesitating to publicize body camera videos from a second fatal shooting. According to the Los Angeles Times, Beck and others who support his decisions believe that body camera video releases in other states had repeatedly failed to fully interpret the scene and ease the controversy surrounding the shooting.

“Body camera footage or other video doesn’t provide transparency if the public never gets to see it,” said Peter Bibring, director of police practices for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and an advocate for the release of the footage.