Body Camera Video Shows Fatal Shooting of Unarmed California Man by Police

A California man who was shot and killed by a police officer last week was unarmed, officials said on Tuesday in a video that includes body camera footage of the fatal encounter.

The man, Trevor Seever, 29, was shot on Dec. 29 outside Modesto Church of the Brethren in Modesto, Calif.

Brandon Gillespie, the interim chief of the Modesto Police Department, said in the video that the police were responding to a 911 call by Mr. Seever’s sister in which she said that her brother had bought a gun the night before and had just sent a threatening text to their mother.

According to Chief Gillespie, the department recognized Mr. Seever’s name from a safety bulletin released in early December after he posted on social media, “All I want for Christmas is another dead MPD cop.”

Body camera footage released by the Police Department shows the officer, Joseph Lamantia, exiting a police car and running toward Mr. Seever, who is white, yelling at him to “get on the ground” before firing four times in quick succession.

The video shows Officer Lamantia running closer to Mr. Seever and ordering him to put his hands up, which Mr. Seever appears to do. Officer Lamantia then orders him twice more to put his hands up, then fires three more shots, after which Mr. Seever cries out and falls to the ground.

Chief Gillespie said that the officers believed Mr. Seever was armed, so Mr. Lamantia waited for backup to arrive with a ballistics shield before administering first aid.

At one point, Mr. Seever can be heard saying, “I don’t have a weapon.”

Mr. Seever was taken to a hospital, where he died, Chief Gillespie said. Officers searched the area but did not find a weapon.

Officer Lamantia has been placed on paid leave, according to The Modesto Bee. The Police Department is conducting an investigation into the shooting, as is the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office.

In an email, John Goold, a deputy district attorney, said the office would not be releasing any information about the case until the investigation was completed, which could be expected to take several months.

According to The Bee, Dec. 29 was not the first time Officer Lamantia was involved in a fatal shooting.

In 2010, Officer Lamantia was among the responding officers when Francisco Moran, 45, was shot and killed after the police received reports that Mr. Moran was intoxicated and armed with a knife. He was carrying a metal spatula.

In 2016, Officer Lamantia was also involved in the fatal shooting of Omar Villagomez, a suspect in a drug bust. The police said at the time that Mr. Villagomez rammed an undercover vehicle while trying to escape, according to The Bee.

Also in 2016, Officer Lamantia was involved in the fatal shooting of Kim Jackson, a woman who officers said charged at them with knives.

The District Attorney’s Office found all three shootings to be justified, according to The Bee. Mr. Goold did not immediately respond to questions about Officer Lamantia’s record.

Officer Lamantia was involved in another encounter in 2016, in which several officers subdued and arrested a man using control holds, beanbag guns and a Taser, according to The Bee. The man died a few days later.

And last October, Officer Lamantia was also involved in the shooting in Stockton of a man, David Cummings Jr., who was wanted in a double homicide near downtown Modesto.

The Stockton Police Department and the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department are investigating that shooting. Neither could immediately be reached for comment.

“An officer-involved shooting is a tragic event for everyone,” Chief Gillespie said, “for our officers, for the community and for the family members of those involved.”

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