By SARAH RANKIN, Associated Press
VIRGINIA (AP) — Body camera footage released Tuesday of the fatal police shooting of a black man in Virginia shows him ignoring police commands and then turning quickly toward officers before they fire shots.
Juan Jones, 25, was fatally shot by police officers early Sunday in the small city of Danville, near the Virginia line with North Carolina.
Virginia State Police are leading the investigation, but the Danville police department said it was releasing the footage Tuesday in an effort to dispel “misinformation and rumor” about the shooting that has sparked protests.
Police said in an initial statement that Jones fled from officers responding to a reported domestic assault. They followed him into a wooded area, where police said he refused commands to show his hands and “suddenly turned on the officers in a threatening manner,” leading to the shooting.
The approximately eight-minute video shows Jones in a car, ignoring commands to get out. He backs the car away.
Later, it shows the car pulling into a brush-filled area. Jones gets out and doesn’t comply with commands to show his hands, the video shows.
One officer is seen deploying a stun gun, which police said wasn’t effective. Jones quickly turns around toward police while lifting his arms, and shots are fired.
Sarah Lipscomb, Jones’ aunt, said she was among the family members who met with police to watch the video before it was released to the media. She told The Associated Press she does not believe the shooting was justified.
“They did not have to shoot him,” Lipscomb said, adding that her nephew was unarmed.
Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said Tuesday that no weapon was recovered at the scene.
Jones’ shooting has prompted protests in Danville, a city of about 40,000. Scores of people rallied Monday, and a smaller crowd had gathered outside the police department Tuesday evening.
Police Chief Scott Booth urged the community not to rush to conclusions about what happened.
“Let justice happen,” he said Tuesday at a news conference in which he confirmed he had met with Jones’ family to share the video.
The department has said the officers involved, who have been put on administrative duty, will be identified later this week. Their races have not been released.
According to the local newspaper, the Danville Register & Bee , Jones’ shooting was the second fatal police shooting in the city so far this year. It came two days after the local prosecutor announced he would not seek charges against the officer who fatally shot a man after a standoff Jan. 7.