Drone video captured the moment police shot dead a California man after pointing a gun at an officer – a gun that turned out to be a “real” BB gun, authorities said.
The man, Gerardo Martinez, 19, was shot dead by Salinas police officer Mario Reyes on Friday evening, Monterey County Prosecutor Jeannine M. Pacioni said in a statement.
A neighbor called 911 and reported Martinez had pointed a handgun at him about five minutes earlier, officials said.
“He pointed it at us and he’s really drunk right now,” the neighbor said, according to the statement released on Monday. “I need an officer here as soon as possible.
The neighbor said the handgun could be a BB gun, “but who knows,” officials said. The 911 caller also noted that the weapon could be a small caliber pistol, the statement said.
The neighbor said he believed Martinez was also “under the influence of methamphetamine” and told the 911 dispatch that Martinez had already attacked and vandalized his property, according to the statement from Pacioni.
The first officer arrived at 8:07 p.m., six minutes after the neighbor called 911, officials said. Other officers arrived shortly after.
All officers wore clearly marked uniforms, according to Pacioni’s statement, and by 8:35 p.m. the officers had positioned two fully marked patrol vehicles about 50 feet from Martinez’s home. Reyes had positioned himself with a patrol rifle about 50 feet from Martinez’s home.
Martinez partially exited through a side door around 8:36 p.m., the statement said. The officers ordered him in Spanish to come out with his hands in the air. Martinez exited through the side door several times as officers issued orders, officials said.
At 8:37 p.m., Martinez came out the door and pointed a gun at Reyes.
“In response, Officer Reyes fired three bullets from his patrol rifle. At least one bullet hit Mr. Martinez in the chest,” officials said.
Officers recovered what they described as “a real black BB gun next to Martinez”.
Martinez’s family could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. Salinas Police referred all questions to Pacioni’s office, which did not return multiple requests for comment.
Before the shooting, authorities used a drone as aerial surveillance. A less than 2 minute drone video provided by Pacioni’s office shows Martinez opening and exiting the house’s side door four times. There is no sound.
The third time Martinez opens the door, according to the video, he leaves it open, walks inside briefly, grabs the BB gun in his right hand, and shows her the door frame before entering again.
He opens the door a fourth and final time, shows the video, with the gun in his right hand in a pointed position. That’s when he was shot. The video shows Martinez holding his stomach as he falls onto his back in the hallway.
Pacioni’s statement says that in September, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill requiring the state Department of Justice to investigate fatal police shootings against unarmed civilians. However, the Justice Department “refused to investigate this shooting because Mr. Martinez was armed in accordance with the Department of Justice’s interpretation of the law,” he said.
Prosecutors said the law defines a lethal weapon to include, but not be limited to, any loaded weapon the firing of which can result in death or other physical injury, officials said.