The mother of an unarmed 19-year-old who was fatally shot by Fresno police has filed a claim against the city, saying the officers never attempted to use less-than-lethal force and allowed him to lie bleeding as they repeatedly shot him.
In a claim filed Monday, Veronica Nelson said her son, Dylan Noble, was stopped on June 25 by officers, who already had their guns drawn. He walked away from officers with his hands held up, then turned and walked toward them. That’s when she said an officer, who was standing 10 feet away, fired two shots in rapid succession.
He collapsed to the ground and rolled onto his back, where he lay bleeding, she said in her claim. About 30 seconds later, the same officer fired another shot at him. Then about 15 seconds later, a second officer, who was armed with a shotgun, fired the fourth shot at Noble as he remained on the ground.
“The officers never had an objectively reasonable basis to shoot Dylan Noble,” the claim said. “At no time did they use or attempt to use their K-9. At no time did they use or attempt to use a Taser. At no time did they use or attempt to use anything but deadly force.”
On Friday, Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer showed police body camera footage of the incident to Nelson’s husband and Dylan Noble’s father, Darren Noble, according to Nelson’s attorney, Stuart Chandler. Chandler and Darren Noble’s attorney also reviewed the footage.
“I think it was the right thing to do,” Chandler said, pointing out that it was the first time police have allowed a family to review footage during an ongoing investigation.
Nelson opted not to view the footage because she “didn’t think she would be able to watch it,” Chandler said.
Chandler requested copies of body camera footage as well as any other audio or video recordings 10 days ago, but hasn’t heard back from the city.
The lawyer declined to comment on what he saw on the body cameras, he said, because of the recent unrest in Fresno and around the country over police shootings. “Given the sensitivity of the situation nationally and locally … it just wouldn’t be a good thing to do,” he said.
“I really think the body cameras will speak from themselves,” he said.
After reviewing the body camera footage, cellphone video from a witness, and information from a private investigator and an expert on police practices, Chandler said he is “confident Veronica Nelson has a valid claim.”
Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer told local ABC affiliate KFSN-TV that he wouldn’t publicly release the video due to concerns about police shootings across the country.
The police chief previously told the Los Angeles Times that the body camera footage shows a more complete picture of what happened, particularly since the officers who stopped Noble were about 12 to 15 feet away when they opened fire.
The footage is expected to be released to the public after the Fresno County district attorney’s office completes its probe into the shooting. The prosecutors’ inquiry is expected to last at least two months.
In the meantime, cellphone video from a witness to the police shooting has sparked criticism about the confrontation. The video shows Noble lying on the ground while two officers stand nearby with their guns drawn. As officers yell “keep your hands up” and other commands, one shot is fired. Seconds later, a third officer approaches the pair, and another shot is heard.
At one point during the video, Noble can be seen raising his arm and saying, “I’ve been shot.”
Police have said the witness video is incomplete: two shots had already been fired at Noble before the recording began.
Officers at the scene had warned Noble not to reach into his waistband, believing he may have a gun, but Noble twice reached under his shirt for his waistband, Dyer said.
Fearing for their lives, one of the officers fired two shots, then a third. Another officer fired the fourth shot.
Police initially responded to a report of a man walking with a rifle about 3:20 p.m. and saw a black pickup speeding. Police tried to stop the truck, but it drove for about half a mile before pulling into a gas station.
Lt. Burke Farrah said Noble did not show his hands, then tried to hide one hand behind his back. Despite officers’ orders to show his hands and drop to the ground, he did not comply. After telling police that he “hated his life,” he approached officers, who opened fire.
Noble was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Originally published at the Los Angeles Times