Penn. teen had his hands up when police killed him, new video shows

Christian Hall's family hopes the newly released clips will lead to an investigation into the police officers involved

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A Chinese American teenager was suffering from mental health issues when he was fatally shot by Pennsylvania state police officers last year. A new video has been released that shows he had his hands up at the time, prompting calls for an independent investigation. 

Christian Hall, 19, was suffering from depression the day law enforcement troopers found him standing on the ledge of a highway overpass on the afternoon of Dec. 30, 2020, according to NBC News. They tried to talk him down, but backed away when they saw he had a gun. The newly released videos, recorded by police and obtained by Hall’s parents via a subpoena, show the final moments of Hall’s life.

The clips show officers repeatedly shouting for Hall to put the gun down, and at one point he did before smoking marijuana. The negotiations went on for about 90 minutes. 

“Come on, man. I don’t think you want to stand out here all night, right?” a trooper said on the video. “Put it down for me and walk up here. That’s all you’ve got to do.” 

Hall was then seen picking the gun back up and officers responded by firing shots into the wall, prompting Hall to raise his hands while holding the gun in one hand.

“If he doesn’t drop it just take him,” a voice could be heard saying on the video.

Hall was told to “drop the gun” numerous times, but when his arm moved, gunshots rang out. His hands stayed above his head as troopers fired several shots. Hall clutched his stomach after he was struck and fell to the ground. 

Authorities reportedly obscured the last four seconds of the teenager’s life in the publicly released videos. 

It was later determined that Hall’s weapon was a realistic pellet gun, which the video does not appear to show him pointing directly at troopers. 

The police’s initial press release claims Hall did in fact point the gun at law enforcement before he was fatally shot. A trooper said he watched Hall “bless himself, point to his head and then pull the gun from his waistband and point it in the direction of the Troopers.” That’s when the corporal fired the first three shots.

“He needed help,” Hall’s mother Fe Hall told WNEP-TV in February. “He was looking for help, but instead of getting help, he was killed by those who were supposed to help him.”

Famed civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump agreed. “He was having a crisis,” said Crump, who, along with Devon M. Jacob, is representing Hall’s family. “Christian Hall needed a helping hand, but yet he got bullets while he had his hands up.”

Hall’s parents are taking legal against the two troopers who shot their son. They hope the videos will spark a fresh independent review. 

“I would like to see an unbiased investigation take place,” said Gareth Hall, Christian’s father. “I personally would like to see those police officers brought up on charges.”

The Monroe County district attorney ruled the shooting was justified.

“Everybody knows when you put your hands in the air that’s the universal sign of surrender,” Crump said. “Why use the most excessive force?”

In March, the first assistant district attorney of Monroe County, Michael Mancuso, described the shooting as a “classic suicide by cop scenario.”

“The moment he is facing and approaching the police officers, moving towards the police officers with a gun in his hand, I don’t see how it’s not a justified shooting,” said Maria Haberfeld, who trains police and is a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

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