Police have released dramatic body camera footage of officers firing more than 70 shots at a suspect as they chased him in their vehicle through a busy residential area.
One of the officers is seen firing multiple shots through his own windscreen during the chase in Anaheim in California last July.
That officer, who was driving the patrol car at the time, has now been sacked. His partner has been placed on leave. The suspect they were pursuing died from the injuries he received.
But although prosecutors described the officers’ actions as “alarming” and “irresponsible”, they said they had “reasonably feared for their lives” and should not face criminal charges.
Officers Sean Staymates and Kevin Pedersen had been alerted by family members of 50-year-old Eliuth Nava that he was possibly armed, disturbed and under the influence of drugs. When the police encountered his truck, he refused to stop.
As the pursuit unfolded, Pedersen, who was driving said he saw the suspect reach down into the vehicle and produce what appeared to be a handgun.
On the body camera recording, Pedersen can be heard in between volleys of gunfire warning his colleague of people and vehicles in their way. Staymates reaches for a rifle before opening fire out of the passenger window.
The two can be heard discussing that the suspect had apparently been hit by their gunfire and was bleeding. A short time later, Nava’s truck is seen to have stopped and the officers get out of their car and continue firing.
Officers discovered that what they thought was a handgun was in fact an air pistol.
Pedersen fired about 80% of the 76 shots in two-and-a-half minutes. Confirming his dismissal, Anaheim police chief Jorge Cisneros said: “His overall performance fell far short of the standards the community and the police department expects.”
The issue of the use of deadly force by police has inflamed tensions in communities across the US.
Anaheim mayor Harry Sidhu said the decision to release the video footage of this incident to the public was intended to be a transparent sharing of information about public safety.
He and the police chief have met Mr Nava’s family. Police say his relatives had become alarmed at his behaviour in the days leading up to the shooting.
But Mayor Sidhu said: “We failed what we expect of ourselves and what the community demands of us.”