LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Los Angeles police on Tuesday (Oct 4) released video footage of the fatal shooting over the weekend of a young black man whose death has set off protests and raised racial tensions.
Police chief Charlie Beck said he decided to reverse course and release the footage to dispell competing accounts about Saturday's shooting of 18-year-old Carnell Snell Jr.
"We decided to release the third-party video to alleviate some of the public's anxiety over the incident and to correct what we believe to be a false narrative," Beck told local radio.
The move comes as police have tried to quell public anger and unrest over Snell's shooting.
Beck said the video released on Tuesday clearly shows Snell with a handgun in his hand as he is pursued by police after he exited a suspected stolen vehicle and ran. The video does not show the actual shooting.
Many area residents have questioned the police version of the incident which triggered weekend protests and further stoked a debate over police shootings of African Americans across the country.
Snell was the third black man to die in an altercation with police in southern California in the last week.
Last Tuesday, Alfred Olango, a Ugandan immigrant, was fatally shot in the San Diego suburb of El Cajon.
Olango's sister had called police to report that he was acting erratically and walking in traffic.
Police officials, who eventually released a surveillance video of the incident, said he was gunned down after he pulled an object that turned out to be a vaping device from his pocket and pointed it at an officer.
On Friday, Reginald Thomas died after being tasered by police in the Los Angeles suburb of Pasadena.
The 35-year-old man's brother had called the emergency services saying Thomas was high on drugs and had a knife tucked under his armpit.
His family says the father of eight also had mental problems.
Pasadena police said responding officers decided to shock him with a Taser after he ignored commands to drop a knife and a fire extinguisher he was holding.
He subsequently went into distress and stopped breathing.
The family's attorney Caree Harper told reporters on Monday that police had used excessive force, kicking Thomas in the head and beating him with a baton after using the Taser.
"Just because Pasadena police says 'We used less lethal force' does not mean they did not use excessive force," Harper was quoted as saying in the Pasadena Star-News.
"Hands on can be just as lethal as a bullet. A boot to the head can be just like a bullet to a head if you keep kicking a man while he's down."
A probe was also underway in relation to the killing on Sunday of a Hispanic man in south Los Angeles who police say was holding what turned out to be a replica handgun.
Beck said the man, who has yet to be identified, had turned and pointed the gun at officers responding to calls about an armed man.
He added that the officers were wearing body cameras and the video of the incident clearly refutes reports that the man was laying on the ground when shot.
Police in the United States have come under mounting pressure to release body-cam videos or security camera videos of officer-involved fatal shootings that have sparked protests and stoked racial tensions.
Authorities have in the past shied away from releasing such footage over concerns about privacy and to protect the integrity of an investigation.