GARDENA, CA - In a tense situation involving police, one wrong move can get a person killed. That's exactly what happened to Ricardo Diaz Zeferino. A Federal judge ordered the release of the police dashcam video that Gardena PD fought hard to keep under wraps.
It was June 2, 2013 when police surrounded three men mistakenly accused of stealing a bicycle. Guns drawn, police yell at the men to put their hands up.
"I couldn't hear anything because I was inside the restaurant, but it looked like they were talking and they always had their hands up the whole time," said a witness, who wanted to remain anonymous.
The video clearly shows the men with their hands up, but things take a deadly turn when Zeferino, 35, fails to comply. He takes a step forward and removes his ball cap--a fatal mistake.
The police dashcam video was released after the city settled a lawsuit for $4.7 million. Turns out, none of the men had stolen a bicycle. Someone had stolen Zeferino's brother's bike, and they were out looking for it.
"It was my bicycle," said Agustin DeJesus Reynoso, "I feel bad because in the police video I can see everything."
A police dispatcher mistakenly told officers the crime was a robbery, which usually involves weapons. None of the men were armed. In the end, the officers involved weren't punished, because they couldn't tell if Zeferino was reaching for a weapon when he put his arms down. Gardena Police Chief Ed Medrano released a statement describing the shooting as 'tragic for all involved.'
A tragedy that could have been avoided for many reasons.