On Saturday (December 12), Nicholas Robertson, 28, was shot and killed by two Los Angeles County Sheriff Department deputies. They arrived after receiving six 911 calls about a Black man firing a gun into the air. Witness video shows that Robertson was walking away from the officers when they fired. He fell and tried to crawl away, and was shot several more times. One officer fired 17 shots, and the other fired 16. Robertson died on the spot.
Per The Associated Press:
A close-up from security footage showed 28-year-old Nicholas Robertson stretched out on the ground with a gun in his hand. He died at the scene Saturday morning in the south Los Angeles suburb of Lynwood.
Two deputies fired 33 bullets at the man after he refused to drop the gun and walked across a busy street to a filling station where a family was pumping gas, homicide Capt. Steven Katz said.
“When he collapsed, his arms were underneath him, and the gun was still in his hand. There was never a time when the weapon was not in his possession,” Katz said.
During a press conference on Sunday (December 13), the sheriff’s department reported that the officers, whose names have not been released, had not yet logged much time on the streets. One has been in the field for 11 months, the other for about 20 months. They have “been reassigned from field duty” while pending the outcome of the investigation. When a reporter asked if they were white, the response was, “No, sir.” The New York Times reports that they are both Latino.
When asked if Robertson pointed the gun at the officers, Captain Steve Katz of the homicide department said, “The video shows that as he’s moving, and ask he’s turing his body with the position that he held the firearm, that it was in the direction of the deputy sheriffs.” He also confirmed that the man’s gun was empty when the deputies shot him, and said, “We do not have any evidence that indicates a round was fired at deputies at this time.”
Robertson’s family and activists have levied claims of excessive force, and Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles joined with other organizations to hold a protest at the site of the shooting. NBC Los Angeles reports that they shouted “no justice, no peace” and that “The sheriff’s department was at the ready with tear gas and helmets in case the rally got out of hand.”
Meet us at long beach & magnolia #Lynwood. #NicholasRobertson was executed by LA Sheriffs. Stand up yall! #BlackLivesMatter @BLMLA @BLMLBC
— Melina Abdullah (@DocMellyMel) December 13, 2015
#NicholasRobertson was crawling on his hands and knees as he was repeatedly shot by LA County Sherrif. #Lynwood https://t.co/BKrh9OFRd6
— BlackLivesMatter LBC (@BLMLBC) December 13, 2015
The LA sheriff’s department has been violent. #NicholasRobertson is the most recent victim. #BlackLivesMatter
— patrisse cullors (@osope) December 13, 2015