Another Black man has been shot and killed by police in California.
Steven Taylor, 33, was killed in a police-involved shooting in a San Leandro Walmart this past Saturday (April 18). Taylor was holding a bat at the time of the incident. Lee Merritt, a civil rights attorney representing Taylor’s family, says police shot Taylor after he was detained and no longer a threat. The incident was captured on video by a bystander, and a witness was heard shouting, “Don’t shoot him no more!”
Now, members of the community and people across social media want answers.
According to The Guardian, Merritt says Taylor was in the midst of a mental health crisis, and that he had a history of paranoid schizophrenia and bipolar depression when the cops tased him. Taylor had dropped his bat and was lying on the ground. Police said one of the officers hit Taylor with a bullet in the upper torso, and the officers tried to use their Tasers multiple times during the confrontation.
The San Leandro police department said in a statement posted to Facebook, “officers approached the man and gave him commands to put down the bat. The man did not comply with the officers’ commands and instead walked towards the officers while still holding the bat.”
The statement continues, “An officer discharged his taser, which was not effective, and the man continued walking towards the officers. Then, the officer used his service weapon, striking the man once in his upper torso. Seconds later, another officer discharged his taser at the man.”
An autopsy was under way to determine if police continued to tase or shoot Taylor when he was already down on the ground. Regardless, Merritt says the officers failed to provide Taylor adequate care after he had been shot. “Their job, according to standard operating procedures, was to get Mr Taylor help. He had been seriously wounded and was suffering from a mental health crisis. They had to treat him quickly. They did the opposite and exacerbated his injuries,” Merritt says.
In its statement, the San Leandro Police Department says that “officers called for paramedics and provided first aid until they arrived. Despite life-saving measures, the man died from his injuries at the scene.”
“He was shot after he had become completely helpless and no longer represented a threat,” Merritt told the Guardian on Monday.
Taylor’s family is calling for charges against the officers, including homicide charges. The San Leandro Police Department claims an investigation is underway, but hasn’t yet provided any details about what happened.
“Our community is hurting right now,” San Leandro police chief Jeff Tudor said in a Facebook video. “But protecting the sanctity of life is extremely important. I know there are a lot of questions and concerns.”
The bystander video showing Taylor’s death has been taken down from social media, in part to protect Taylor’s three children. “I hope they don’t see their father executed like that,” says Merritt.