Another easily preventable police killing has been revealed as newly released body camera footage of the September police shooting of Rueben Galindo shows the Charlotte man stepping out of his apartment with his hands raised above his head for several seconds before officers decided to fatally shoot him.
Just a few seconds after emerging from his apartment with his arms in the air, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers begin to bark orders for Galindo to drop his weapon, and a series of gunshots ring out, the videos from The Charlotte Observer reveal. He was not threatening anyone, and he was even on the phone with a 911 operator at the time.
Body cam footage obtained by the Charlotte Observer through a court order reveals that CMPD shot and killed Rueben Galindo, 29, who had called 911 and said he had a gun but no bullets. A dispatcher told officers that a Spanish-speaking man had called and wanted officers to help him.
Chief Kerr Putney on Friday continued to defend his officer’s decisions to shoot Galindo. But a national expert in police shootings who viewed the videos at the request of the Observer called the footage “troubling,” and said that Galindo appeared to be trying to comply with two separate police orders – drop it and throw it down – when he was shot.
“In and of itself, the video does not show that the officers are legally justified to shoot,” said Phil Stinson, a criminal justice professor at Bowling Green State University and a former law enforcement officer who tracks police shootings around the country.
Stinson seems to lean towards believing the officers murdered the man, who was posing no threat to them or anyone else at the time they chose to kill him.
“Without legal justification you’re left with either murder or manslaughter. This one, I’ve watched it a dozen times and I question whether a murder has been committed.”
Putney said officers have limited options when facing a lethal threat, the chief said, and have to think about saving their own lives and the lives of other people.
“I’m not going to second-guess how (officers) perceive a lethal threat,” he said.
However, a Charlotte activist described the video of Galindo’s death as “horrific,” and called on city leaders to provide justice to the dead man’s family.
“We have a man who had his hands up for a full four or five seconds before police shot him,” Hector Vaca, Charlotte director of the nonprofit Action NC, told the Observer. “It is obvious he was complying with directives from police. What we need now is justice. We need CMPD to take responsibility for their officers’ actions.”
Galindo’s widow, Azucena Zamorano Aleman, said in a statement that the videos confirm what the family already knew. “This is a tragic loss. This was avoidable … Rueben was seeking help … Despite prior statements, Rueben’s hands were in the air,” she said. “We will work with authorities to ensure a thorough investigation is concluded so that justice can be achieved for Rueben.”
The 2 officers, Courtney Suggs and David Guerra, who shot Galindo are on administrative leave during the internal investigation.
The shooting remains under investigation by the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office. In a statement Friday, an office spokeswoman said the videos were shown to Aleman and a family friend before they were released to the public. Prosecutors only received the full investigative case file this week, the statement said.
(Article By Jeremiah Jones)