A man wielding a bat inside a Walmart was shot to death by police Saturday in an incident partially captured on witness video.
The video is grainy and captures several popping sounds, one which apparently is a gunshot and the rest taser shots but it’s difficult to distinguish the gunshot from the taser sounds.
However, San Leandro police confirmed an officer fired a single shot, striking the man in the torso after tasering him.
The attorney for the victim’s family, S. Lee Merritt, said the cops’ actions were “criminal.” He believes he was shot right before he dropped the bat, then tasered a couple more times even though he was no longer a threat. The victim’s name was Steven Taylor, a 33-year-old father of one. He was having a mental episode, according to Merritt.
San Leandro police were responding to a call of a robbery in progress but when they arrived to the scene, they encountered a man swinging a baseball bat inside the store near the entrance, according to ABC 7.
“Both officers deployed their tasers which was not successful,” said Ted Henderson, San Leandro Police Department. “After those deployments, one officer fired one shot. The report is he was swinging a bat. We don’t know how close he was to the officer.”
When speaking about the officer’s use of force, Lt. Henderson said, “If there is a taser deployment, there has to be some type of perceived threat and this is an active threat.”
According to the San Leandro Police Dept. the officer who shot the suspect is a 20+ year veteran. He is now under administrative leave.
The San Leandro Walmart is closed for the time being and San Leandro Police Department and Alameda County District Attorney are investigating the shooting. At least 20 people are being interviewed as witnesses of this shooting.
Attorney S. Lee Merritt issued the following statement:
Our office has been retained to represent the family of Steve Taylor concerning
the excessive and unlawful use of deadly force by officers of the San Leandro Police
Department. Video of the shooting captured by pedestrians does not depict the entire
exchange but does show police repeatedly using force without proper justification. The
recording captured the sound of a bat clanging to the floor after the administration of
some form of use of force we believe to be both a gunshot and a taser. A trail of blood
indicates the victim’s body was severely punctured during the exchange. Taylor backs
away and begins limping in the opposite direction of the officers. He was shot a second
time with what appears to be a taser. This was no longer necessary as he had already
been disarmed and was collapsing. After the second unnecessary shot Taylor falls to the
floor and appears to be shot a third time by our count. At some point in this exchange
the officers’ behavior became criminal— namely when the suspect was disarmed. These
officers are not only poorly trained to deal with individuals suffering from a mental
health crisis; their intentional and repeated application of force despite the absence of a
threat captured in these recordings is sufficient evidence for authorities to issue an arrest
warrant for the shooting officers. Failure to identify and arrest the shooter unnecessarily
exposes the public to a deadly threat.
”This dude was saying he wanted to die before the police even arrived…he waited for the police to get here while he was swinging a bat,” witness Mike_Myke told NBC Bay Area who did not record the video put posted it on Instagram with some commentary.
“He was threatening to kill the door greeter … people offered to help him and he refused.”