Outrage after Video Shows Woman Tearfully Begging Cops Not to Shoot Kneeling 'Unarmed' Man
A woman from Los Angeles, California filmed the terrifying moment several police officers held an unarmed black young man who was kneeling on the ground at gunpoint. Police said someone reported a robbery nearby and the young man “loosely” fit the description of the suspect.
Sky Holsey was getting gas before going to work when she witnessed a police officer pull up and stop a young man, whom she says surrendered instantly with his hands up and seemed “in shock.”
As more police cars arrived, at least four officers from the Hawthorne Police Department aimed their guns at the man, identified as 24-year-old William Ewell. That’s when Holsey started recording her video, repeatedly asking the officers why they were pointing their gun at Ewell.
"I have no weapons!" Ewell yells to the police. As Skye tries to intercede, telling Ewell to "Relax. Because they will shoot you, they killed my boyfriend in 2015. Yes, he was killed by the police.”
Holsey’s boyfriend, Leroy Browning, was killed after he resisted arrest and grabbed hold of a deputy's gun, prompting another deputy to open fire.
THE BREAKING POINT AND ARREST
As the video continues, another officer appears with what looks like a bigger gun, and Holsey breaks down and starts crying as she asks, “Is all that really necessary? Is all the guns drawn on him necessary? Are you about to kill this man?”
"I feel like we have nobody to stand up for us. So, at that moment, I had to stand up for him for myself. I wouldn't have been able to live with myself if I didn't intervene in some way,” Holsey explained to CBS News.
Police have now explained that what looked like a bigger gun was a "less lethal 40 mm device" that uses blunt projectiles instead of bullets.
Finally, after two minutes in the video, seven officers approach Ewell, and one handcuffs him. Another officer calmly approaches Holsey and asks her to calm down as he explains that they got a call about a robbery and Ewell “loosely matches the description."
"It said a weapon was involved, that's the only reason he gets held at gunpoint, OK? It's just for our safety and everybody around's safety,” the officer added.
Holsey kept recording as the officers searched Ewell and talked to him still in handcuffs.
THE POLICE’S STATEMENT
The Hawthorne Police Department later released a statement explaining that one of their officers was on a routine patrol when she was flagged down by people at a gas station. They pointed to a man across the street, stating he had just assaulted one of the cashiers and walked out of the store.
Simultaneously, “a witness called 911 to report a robbery that had just occurred at the location and that there were possible weapons involved," the department added.
The officer drove across the street to detain Ewell and waited for backup to arrive before he was handcuffed.
THE GAS STATION INCIDENT
After investigating, officers determined that Ewell had walked into the store alongside two other suspects and got into an argument with the cashier for a previous purchase. Then, he walked behind the counter and took some items from the display.
When the female employee attempted to stop him, she was assaulted by the men.
Employees ended up forcefully removing Ewell and the other two from the store, and once outside, Ewell threw a trashcan at one of the employees.
A second suspect, identified as Antoine Freeman, 38, was also arrested. The third suspect fled the scene and remains unidentified.
Despite Ewell’s actions, some people that have seen the five-minute long video believe police was using deadly force against him.
Some have praised Holsey for going out of her way to try and help the young man, even though she didn’t know him.
Thinking about all of this, it hits me that what while what Skye did is remarkable, and it's incredible that she happened to be there at that exact same time, it's not incredible at all that she lived through a horribly similar experience with her boyfriend.— Rebecca Kavanagh (@DrRJKavanagh) June 10, 2019
The Hawthorne Police Department addressed the incident by replying to several people demanding an explanation on Twitter. Among their replies, they stated that race was not an issue as the “suspect was pointed out to the officer by the victim who was assaulted.”
When a person slammed the officers for using excessive force on a man who claimed to be unarmed, they replied: “Don't know he is unarmed until he is detained and searched. Last two officer shootings we had, both officers were shot.”
Race not an issue. suspect was pointed out by the victim as the suspect was walking away.— Hawthorne Police (@HawthornePD) June 10, 2019
They also justified the weapons by stating that “one lone female officer vs. three male suspects who just assaulted a clerk prompted back up to respond.”
Considering Holsey’s traumatic experience, and the countless number of racial-related shootings by police in the past years—which started the #BlackLivesMatter movement— her fear and intervention in the incident makes absolute sense to anyone who has been paying attention.
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