Saheed Vassell was fatally shot by the police in Crown Heights on Wednesday. He was holding a metal pipe that passers-by and officers thought was a gun.
The video shows Officer Blane Salamoni telling Mr. Sterling he is going to shoot him in the head. Moments later, Mr. Sterling is hit by a taser and then fatally shot.
Hundreds of people filled Sacramento City Hall to protest the killing of Stephon Clark, who was shot by police officers who mistook his cellphone for a gun.
Alton Sterling was shot by the police outside a Baton Rouge, La., convenience store in 2016. The episode was captured on video.
Stephon Clark, a 22-year-old unarmed man, was shot by the police in his backyard in Sacramento on March 18. Police body camera and helicopter footage shows details of what happened.
“If you make a mistake, another mistake, there is a very severe possibility you’re both going to get shot,” the officer says in the video. He shouts at Mr. Shaver, “If you move, we are going to consider that a threat, and we are going to deal with it, and you may not survive it.”
“I’m sorry,” Mr. Shaver says at one point. “Please do not shoot me,” he says at another.
The officer’s commands at times seemed contradictory.
“Do not put your hands down for any reason,” he tells Mr. Shaver. “Your hands go back in the small of your back or down, we are going to shoot you, do you understand me?”
“Yes, sir,” a tearful Mr. Shaver responds.
But immediately after, the officer commands, “Crawl towards me,” prompting Mr. Shaver to lower his hands to the floor and begin moving toward the camera.
Credit Mesa Police Department
A few seconds after beginning to crawl, Mr. Shaver twists slightly to his right, his elbow pointing upward. As someone shouts, “Don’t!” Officer Brailsford begins firing.
During his trial, Officer Brailsford testified that he had fired five times, The Arizona Republic reported.
The police later learned that Mr. Shaver, who was from Granbury, Tex., had been in his room showing off a pellet gun, which he used for his job in pest control, before being summoned by officers into the hallway. A witness testified that Mr. Shaver had been drinking.
A police report by an officer who reviewed the footage offered two possible explanations for why Mr. Shaver had bent his arm, the movement before the gunfire. It was “a very similar motion to someone drawing a pistol from their waist band,” the officer wrote, according to The Atlantic — but it “was also consistent with attempting to pull his shorts up as they were falling off.” No weapon was found on Mr. Shaver.
The Police Department fired Officer Brailsford two months after the shooting.
The jury deliberated for less than six hours before acquitting him. The acquittal came the same day that a judge in South Carolina sentenced Michael T. Slager, a white police officer, to 20 years in prison for the 2015 shooting of an unarmed black motorist, Walter L. Scott.
The South Carolina case was one of a number of fatal police shootings, often of black men, that have set off outrage in recent years. In Arizona, both the officer and the man who was killed were white.
Reactions to the Arizona video were swift and furious. Civil rights activists, celebrities and athletes described the shooting as an execution and denounced what they called a lack of accountability. Some highlighted a threatening profanity Officer Brailsford had etched onto the weapon he used to shoot Mr. Shaver, a fact the judge did not allow to be presented at trial.
Michael Piccarreta, Officer Brailsford’s lawyer, said in an interview on Saturday that his client’s actions were consistent with his training.
“Mr. Shaver certainly didn’t deserve to die that night, but the information projected to the outside world that night was one of danger,” Mr. Piccarreta said. “I think if people knew the full story, everyone would still be sad, everyone would be upset, but the vitriolic anger might be calmed a bit.”
Mr. Piccarreta also pointed out that the voice on the video, which he said was “harsh” and “threatening,” belonged to another officer, Sgt. Charles Langley, who testified at the trial that it was his voice heard on the video.
Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, said Officer Brailsford’s caution when entering the hotel was justified, given the 911 call. But once officers were in the hallway, Mr. Wexler said, the footage indicated that Mr. Shaver was not a threat.
“I saw the individual doing everything he could to comply with what the officer was asking,” he said. “And so the officer’s actions then were inexplicable.”
Eugene O’Donnell, a former police officer and a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said the crux of the case was the impossibility of knowing what Officer Brailsford was thinking.
“What people as humans will see is someone drunk and emotionally distraught,” Mr. O’Donnell said, referring to Mr. Shaver. “The police will read that differently. In some sense it’s an argument without end: The police are just going to add this up a different way.”
“In the police report you have so far, there is no description of a threat he received,” Mr. Tate said. “So we have a real problem with that. But this has been a national discussion for the past two years. There is this perception that a black man is automatically feared.”
The police department said in a brief statement on Monday that the investigation into the officer-involved shooting was not complete. Mr. Tate could not be reached on Monday for comment.
The shooting has revived questions about the effects of police training and race on communities, especially in the St. Louis area, where police killings of black people in recent years have had national consequences. In August 2014, a white officer from the Ferguson Police Department fatally shot Michael Brown, who was 18 and black, in a northern suburb of St. Louis.
The shooting of Mr. Brown led to protests and calls for police reform nationwide, particularly after a grand jury did not indict the officer, Darren Wilson. Two months later, protesters marched again in St. Louis over the death of another young black man, Vonderrit D. Myers Jr., 18, who was shot after what the authorities called a “physical altercation” with an off-duty St. Louis officer who was patrolling the city’s Shaw neighborhood for a security firm.
In August 2015, tensions flared after the police said an officer shot an 18-year-old St. Louis man, Mansur Ball-Bey, after a foot chase by two white officers after he pointed a gun at them.
In an interview on Monday, a state senator, Jamilah Nasheed, questioned the justification given in the police statement for the black officer’s shooting. Saying that an officer feared for his safety, she said, can be a blanket excuse to help absolve blame — to “get out scot-free.”
“What is really disheartening, especially for the African-American community, is that we are still trying to recover from the police-involved shootings,” she said. “And now to see the police officers shooting their own men in blue by way of what they call ‘friendly fire’? It is telling that white men in blue suits are afraid of black men.
“The discussion is going to have to be had about sensitivity training across the board,” she added. “If you are going to interact with African-Americans, the first thing that you should not be afraid of is the African-American.”
The city has not had a permanent police chief since April, when D. Samuel Dotson III retired.
This year the city also got a new mayor. When Mayor Lyda Krewson took office in April, her mandate included trying to “rebuild the frayed relationships between law enforcement and our community,” The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. On Monday, she said at a news conference broadcast on social media that public meetings and citizen advisory meetings were taking place to find a new police chief, a process that might take up to nine months.
Asked about the June 21 police shooting and Mr. Tate’s remarks about blacks being treated as criminals, she said:
“My understanding of this situation — it was a very intense volatile situation, with a lot of gunfire going on. But if it was friendly fire, then certainly that was a terrible accident.”