Immediately after Los Angeles police officers shot a 39-year-old Black man in the back several times, the department claimed its officers believed he was carrying a gun. In body camera footage of the July 18 incident released Wednesday, however, an officer can be heard saying, “It’s not a gun, bro,” as they pursue him on foot.
A 911 caller had alerted law enforcement to a man walking around the area brandishing “a black, semi-automatic gun,” according to audio of the call. Responding officers came across Jermaine Petit, who partially matched the caller’s description of the suspect, several blocks away from where the incident was reported.
In the footage, Petit is seen walking away as the officers converge on him with their weapons drawn. An officer then says, “What is… Bro, you said that’s not a gun?”
“Hey, drop it!” says another, identified as Officer Daryl Glover Jr., as they chase Petit across a road.
As LAPD Sgt. Brett Hayhoe—a “uniformed supervisor,” as Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore would put it a day later—pulls up alongside Petit in a squad car, multiple shots are heard in the footage, and Petit collapses. As he shifts on the ground, the officers yell to each other to take cover and for the 39-year-old to “stop reaching for it.”
The shooting of Petit, an Air Force veteran with a history of mental illness, including PTSD, marked the LAPD’s 20th of 2022. The release of the footage on Thursday was first flagged by Streetsblog Los Angeles and Twitter user William Gude.
Hours after the shooting, a department spokesperson told reporters the victim had been armed with a weapon. Two days later, however, Moore walked the allegation back, telling the Board of Police Commissioners that the object had not been a weapon but a car component.
Images released by the department last month showed the object in question—a 6-inch black metal object, identified by Moore as a latch actuator. The police continued to insist that the officers involved had mistaken the actuator for a gun, with one captain calling it a “non-functioning firearm” in a half-hour town hall on July 28, according to Streetsblog Los Angeles.
After the shooting, Petit was transported to a hospital, where he remained in critical condition for several days, according to a GoFundMe set up by his daughter. On July 29, the LAPD said that Petit was recovering from his injuries but was being held in the hospital on two outstanding arrest warrants in lieu of $100,000 bail.
It was not immediately clear on Thursday if Petit remained hospitalized, with a request for updates on his status filed by The Daily Beast not immediately returned.
Two days after the shooting, law enforcement recommended that the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office file two charges of brandishing a replica firearm against Petit.
A spokesperson for Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer said Thursday that the case was still under review by his office. An investigation into the incident by the police department remains ongoing.