SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Dramatic video footage released Wednesday by California police shows a Black man walking around an unmarked police vehicle, opening the door and pointing a gun at an undercover officer inside before the man was fatally shot.
San Jose Police Chief Anthony Mata said two undercover officers were conducting surveillance Monday on 31-year-old Demetrius Stanley and had no plans to arrest or confront him. Stanley, however, opened the car door and pointed his firearm, forcing the officer to fire, Mata said.
“Officers did not want, or anticipate, a confrontation that night, and did everything possible to avoid having one. Unfortunately, the officers have no control over the actions of others,” the chief said at a news conference.
Officials released still images of the shooting Tuesday but no details shortly before more than 100 demonstrators marched along street and a freeway to protest Stanley’s death.
Family members and some of those who participated in the protest accused police of withholding key details about the shooting. They said home-security video showed the officers were in plainclothes and an unmarked vehicle, and did not announce themselves as police, the Mercury News reported.
They said Stanley did not know he was dealing with police.
Mata said Stanley had acknowledged committing a March 12 armed robbery and was arrested and released on bail. On Monday, undercover detectives pursuing other allegations related to the robbery were trying to confirm where Stanley lived when he came out of his house carrying a gun and went toward one of the plainclothes officers on the street, the chief said.
The officer walked away quickly and Stanley returned to the house, tucking the firearm into the waistband of his shorts, Mata said. Another officer in the unmarked vehicle did not attempt to exit the car or confront Stanley.
Stanley then walked to the vehicle and opened the door with the firearm in his other hand, Mata said.
“Fearing for his life, the officer fired his weapon at Stanley,” he said.
Mata declined to name the officer, a 14-year police veteran, given the nature of the officer’s duties. Police said they recovered a 9mm unregistered ghost gun with an illegal high capacity magazine at the scene.
The protest march was led by the BLACK Outreach SJ and HERO Tent activist groups that protested last spring after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and the San Jose Police Department’s violent response to protests in the wake of the killing.
“They’re going to try and say that it was as simple as he pointed guns at police officers, but that’s not what happened,” said Lou Dimes, president of BLACK Outreach SJ. “He was being stalked by people in plain clothing who didn’t identify themselves as police officers. He thought he was in danger.”