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Police shooting of teen murder suspect — previously ruled justified — called into question with release of graphic new video

The teenager was shot in the back of the head

Image source: ABC30 Fresno video screenshot

The justification for an April 2017 police shooting of a teenager is being called into question again with the release of a video that shows the officer shooting the teen in the back of the head as he fled, according to KFSN-TV.

After an investigation by the city of Fresno's Office of Independent Review, the shooting was deemed to be a justified use of force. Now, the suspect's family is suing the police department.

The suspect was 16-year-old Isiah Murrietta-Golding. He was being detained by police as part of an investigation into a homicide that had occurred the day before. He had been identified as a suspect in a shooting death, and police pulled him over about a mile from his home to take him in.

Murrietta-Golding initially complied with officer instructions during the stop, but fled on foot just before the officer was about to place him in handcuffs. He ran to a daycare and hopped the fence. Shortly after getting over the fence, he was shot in the back of the head by Villalvazo, who was still on the other side.

You can view the video here, although it might be disturbing to some viewers.

The independent investigation determined that Villalvazo was justified in using lethal force because he had to make a split-second decision about whether Murrietta-Golding was about to pull a gun.

"The reasonableness of force is based on the officer making a split-second decision after observing the suspect reaching for his waistband area several times during the foot pursuit," said independent reviewer John Gliatta.

However, a jury is now set to determine whether the Office of Independent Review made the right call in justifying the shooting next year, as part of a civil lawsuit against the Fresno Police Department.

"The law says there has to be an immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury, which clearly there wasn't," said Stuart Chandler, an attorney for Murrietta-Golding's father. "This young man was trying to run away. and you can be as critical as you want about how you shouldn't do that, but it doesn't give police the right to use lethal force."

One last thing…
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