The family of a teenager who was shot and killed by Sacramento police two months ago says there are still unanswered questions regarding the incident. They made demands of the department in front of City Hall on Monday — even as the department has already made one change as a result of the shooting.
Darell Richards was fatally shot by police in September, but some officer-worn body cameras were inadvertently turned off during the incident, according to a department spokesperson, Vance Chandler.
Now, the department says body cameras have been repositioned to eliminate the possibility that the butt end of an officer’s rifle could turn off the camera.
Police encountered the 19-year-old Richards after a 911 call late in the evening of September 5. "He's walking around carrying a gun and he's pointing it at people,” the caller told a dispatcher of Richards’ alleged behavior that night. “He just pointed it at me and two of my other co-workers. He didn't say anything, but he just pointed it at us and he walked on off."
Sacramento police say they spotted Richards shortly after near Broadway and 16th Street, and that he ran when officers told him to stop.
Hours later, at 3 a.m. the next day, officers say they found Richards under a nearby home’s backyard stairs. SWAT officers say they shot him when he pointed a gun at them.
The weapon turned out to be a pellet gun.
Richards is of Black and Hmong descent. On Monday, his grandmother Kathie Richards says less-lethal means of force should have been used. "I still don't understand why the SWAT team was even brought into the situation. There was no crime committed," she said.
Chandler says the officers had no way of knowing if it was a pellet gun. He also says body-camera videos show the officers used a police dog.
"They sent that dog in the yard before the officers went in there. The dog did not find the suspect," Chandler said, adding that the officers had no time to deploy other less-lethal weapons.
Officers who encountered Richards earlier that evening also decided not to follow him through nearby Curtis Park neighborhoods, the department says, due to department pursuit-policy changes after the fatal shooting of Stephon Clark earlier this year.
Black Lives Matter has issued a list of demands, which include payment of funeral expenses and the release of the officers' names.
The department says the officers and their families have received threats and their names will not be released until those threats have been investigated.