District Judge John Dowdell released the video of a 2014 shooting of a defendant who attacked a witness, during a trial inside the courtroom.
The video in question was evidence the officer who shot defendant Siale Angilau, a member of the Tongan Crips gang, was justified in his actions, the judge concluded. He dismissed Angilau’s family’s lawsuit which claimed excessive force was used in the incident.
“The video completely contradicts plaintiffs’ argument that Angilau stopped posing a danger within less than one second of launching himself over the witness stand while making a stabbing motion with a pen in hand,” Dowdell wrote in the verdict, Deseret News reported.
“Angilau was in custody, but he essentially had escaped custodial control for those seconds during which he was executing his plan to assault the witness,” the judge added. “His attack was stopped by the shots that Jane Doe rapidly fired, in less than one and one-half seconds.”
In the 24-second clip, Angilau is seen suddenly standing up at the defendant table, grabbing a pen or pencil near him and running toward the witness stand, where another member of the gang was testifying.
Angilau jumped over the witness stand, hurling himself at the other gang member, who moves out of the stand just in time and retreats to the corner of the room.
Four loud shots are heard as Angilau dives into the stand. The officer who fired the shots points his gun at Angilau, who, positioned behind the witness stand, is no longer visible in the video.
“Drop the pen. Drop the pen out of your hand,” an officer yells at the defendant, as chaos ensues in the courtroom. At that point, the video cuts out. Angilau died from fatal gunshot wounds.
Faces of almost all the people present inside the courtroom at the time, including the judge is blurred in the video.
An investigation launched into the incident found the officer, who was not named, was legally justified in using the force he did.
Angilau’s lawyer, Robert Sykes, urged the judge to release the video so that the jury could see and decide if excessive force was used in the shooting. “Those last three shots were all after he’s been shot once down on the ground in the back, and that’s the problem I have with this case. There was no necessity to use force,” he said.
District Judge John Dowdell released the video of a 2014 shooting of a defendant who attacked a witness, during a trial inside the courtroom. In this photo, a view from behind the witness stand looking towards the gallery in Courtroom #8 which will be full of prospective jury candidates, one day before jury selection begins for the Michael Jackson child molestation trial at the Superior Court of California courthouse in Santa Maria, California, Jan 30, 2005.Photo: Getty Images/ Spencer Weiner-Pool