VICE News is closely watching policing in America. Check out the Officer Involved blog here.
The family of a mentally ill black man that was shot dead in February by a Florida cop has now released a video of the incident, which shows the officer ordering the 25-year-old to "get on the fucking ground or you're dead" just seconds before he opens fire.
Just before 5am on the morning of February 15, Catherine Daniels called authorities in Miami Gardens, Florida for assistance with her son Lavall Hall, who is schizophrenic. Hall was reportedly wielding a broomstick while outside naked, just one week after police had brought him to a mental hospital.
Officers Eddo Trimino and Peter Ehrlich arrived to the scene and attempted to approach the man, as his mother said she asked them not to hurt him. Hall can be seen from one angle fleeing from the cop as Trimino barks orders to get down.
"Get on the fucking ground or you're dead!" Trimino is heard yelling in the police video. "Get on the ground or you're dead. Get on the ground, get on the ground."
Trimino then fires four shots, pauses, then fires a fifth, ultimately killing Hall. He was struck by two of the five shots, according to the family's wrongful death lawsuit.
"I was outraged, furious, devastated, and very emotional," Melissa Edwards, the mother of Hall's 8-year-old child, told the Miami Herald. "They killed him, murdered him."
Police have said that Ehrlich now needs stitches after the broomstick Hall was wielding struck him. Trimino was reportedly hit as well.
Trimino's attorneys have said that the officer was scared of Hall and feared for his life, and that the video provides evidence that Trimino's actions were justified.
"You're trained to shoot at the center body mass. So it's going to be a bit of a lower trajectory of the gun," Trimino's attorney, Andrew Axelrad, told the Herald. "He's not shooting at eye level, that's in the movies. The video justifies the officer's actions. You can see his fear."
Hall's family held a press conference Wednesday to publicly release the video and where they called for an independent investigation into the incident. The footage was released by the family ahead of a ruling in the state's investigation, a move that has been criticized by Florida State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, who said the family's decision could be a "potential contamination" that "may compromise our common goal to seek the truth and undermine the integrity of the investigation," the New York Post reported.
Eric Pettus, NAACP executive board member in Miami, said that this case is about how dealing with the mentally ill is handled by police forces.
"After seeing the video, it's clear to me that the incident was avoidable," he said. "This was a call that was a mental health issue."