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While 33-year-old Steven Taylor was bleeding out on the floor of a Walmart in San Leandro, California, the police officer who shot him said, ”Stop fighting, man. Just give me your hand,” according to body camera footage released Wednesday.
At that point, Taylor appeared to be in no position to resist being handcuffed. As he lay face down on the floor, the second officer appeared to continue using his Taser on him. The officers cut his backpack off to cuff him.
“Don’t shoot him no more!” one of the shoppers in the store yelled as the confrontation unfolded. Before the body cam footage was made public, videos of the incident were already circulating on social media.
The two San Leandro officers on the scene were responding to a 911 call about a man threatening people with a baseball bat at the Walmart and allegedly attempting to rob the store. It’s not clear whether Taylor was actually attempting to rob the store, or why he was wielding the bat in the first place. “Drop the bat, man,” one of the officers can be heard saying in the body camera footage the police department released Wednesday.
Taylor had suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, Lee Merritt, the attorney that Taylor’s family retained, told the Guardian. On Saturday, when he was killed, Merritt said Taylor was having a breakdown. He added that the young man’s death represents an unlawful use of police force, and the killing has sparked outrage in the community and on social media.
“Each shot or shock delivered after Steve had been disarmed was excessive and illegal,” Merritt wrote on Twitter.
When Taylor refused to drop the bat, the first officer used his Taser on Taylor, which wasn’t effective in subduing him. After the first office fired his gun, the second officer on the scene can be seen in the video using his Taser on Taylor.
The police department has promised transparency in their investigation. As part of that effort, police chief Jeff Tudor said they were releasing the body cam footage before the investigation wrapped up.
“We know this incident has garnered much attention in our community, and that’s why we’re releasing this video now, before the investigation is complete, so we can provide as much information as possible to our community as the process continues,” Tudor said in a statement accompanying the body cam footage.
“The events that took place are troubling,” the mayor of San Leandro, Pauline Cutter, said in a separate statement. “I promise that our city will be transparent with the findings [of the investigation], and you can hold me accountable to give you the answers.”
Cover: Screenshot of body camera footage released by the San Leandro Police Department.