By David M. Greenwald
Sacramento, CA – The video released in November shows the shooting of Augustine Morales in Sacramento by police officers.
The initial news report was that he was shooting at the 1600 block of Juliesse where some sort of party was occurring, and the officers ordered him to drop his weapon multiple times. The police thought he was firing at the crowd and so the police shot him.
In the police version of events, they said they were responding to reckless driving reports.
That’s not at all what happened, his mother Roxanne Morales told the Vanguard.
The video shows the scene. The officer arrived at the scene, people were running out of the building, the officer was attempting to figure out what was going on – few in the crowd were being helpful.
“Can you tell me what’s actually going on – because I can’t figure it out,” you can hear the officer saying on video captured from his body camera.
Someone comes out and says someone is shooting.
“Who is? Which guy?” the officer asked. “Where’s he at?”
You can hear the person say that “he’s in there with a gun.”
Suddenly the officer is running and firing his weapon. “Shots fired,” he calls out And then yells, “Drop the gun.”
The officer is yelling “down” to a guy who appears to be hit with the bullets.
The family believes they hit the wrong guy.
On the video, you can hear the officer who is standing over Augustine Morales on the ground, bleeding, asking if someone else had a gun.
His sister, Marysa Morales, said there is surveillance video from the facility where the event took place and “that shows a little bit more of a clear direction.”
“That’s where the police department did determine that there was another shooter, shooting from the inside the warehouse and shooting out.”
Marysa Morales said that there were some claims that the second shooter might have been shooting at her brother, but she went to the scene, and saw where the bullets were, and “you can see where those rounds are and they are not at all in the direction of my brother. They are straight ahead and a little bit to the right, whereas my brother was to the left of that other shooter.”
She said, “That was another thing that didn’t line up with the evidence.”
Morales charged, “The officer came on just shooting without assessing the type of situation.”
Police issued a number of accounts of what happened immediately afterward, but have yet to revise it based on the video that had come forward.
For example, Morales noted that they said Augustine Morales was waving his weapon recklessly at the crowd – however, his sister points out that the video shows “never did he do that.
“The crazy thing is that the crowd was actually inside the warehouse in the direction that the officer is shooting,” she said. “So if anybody was shooting recklessly it was the officer. The officer didn’t check to see if there was anybody else in between those vehicles with my brother, standing there.”
She noted there were kids at this event.
“He’s lucky he didn’t shoot someone else,” she said and pointed out in the footage where you can actually see people on the other side of the car, hiding.
She pointed out that “the officer is the only one who took a life that night” and “the only one who really was reckless with his shooting.”
As she pointed out, she understands that things were confused when the information first came out, “But once the evidence is out, it’s like, come on. You know it’s just a slap in the face to have transparency but no accountability.”
The first narrative that the police gave is that multiple times he was told to drop his weapon.
But that’s not what the video shows.
On the video, you hear the officer start to fire shots at 3:20. At no point prior did he yell to drop it. He doesn’t say anything at all until 3:25 when he’s running and yells “shots fired.”
He finally yells “drop it” at 3:27, but he’s already been firing for seven seconds. After yelling drop it, he fires off three or four more rounds.
According to the family, they shot at Augustine Morales around 13 times and hit him 11. At 3:31 – after all the shots were fired, you hear him yell, drop the gun – several times. At 4:03 it looks like he slid the gun away from him.
But, from the video, it’s clear that the officer fired most of his shots before he ever yelled to drop a weapon.
In fact, Marysa Morales pointed out – and the video confirms – when the officer comes back to her brother after shooting him, he is flashing the flashlight at Augustine Morales.
“He’s kneeling down on the floor (the ground outside) with his back towards the officer,” she explained. “If you look… my brother’s weapon and magazine is already on the floor. So the magazine is out of the gun, and it’s on the floor.”
When Augustine starts crawling toward the officer, he slides the weapon toward the officer, and away from him.
“That’s when my brother slides it,” she said. “It was already on the floor but what that keeps being the narrative – that that’s when finally my brother surrendered his weapon, which is not at all true.”
The video bears that out. The gun was already on the ground well before the officer ordered him to drop it and get rid of it.
Marysa Morales also points out: “After he’s shot 11 times, the officer then starts commanding him. My brother is completely obeying every single command – after having been shot 11 times in his back.”
She believes that he never even realized that the officer was the one who shot him.
The investigation is still ongoing. The family told the Vanguard that the lead investigator is closing the investigation, but they’re still hoping more witnesses come forward.
One of the things the family wants to see is the GSR test – gunshot residue – “to provide that he never actually shot.”
She added that they would like to see fingerprint analysis on the gun.
“From our understanding, that wasn’t his weapon, it could have been handed off to him,” she said. “That’s another we would like to know – to see what other fingerprints are on there.”
She added “that wasn’t Augustine’s registered gun. We know that.”
The family believed that Augustine posed no threat.
“My son was not a threat to him at all,” Roxanne Morales said. “His back was to him. He had no idea there was an officer there.
“One word would have saved my son’s life,” she said. “If that cop would have used his voice instead of his weapon, then obviously it would be here today. And I know that for a fact.”
One of the TV stations interviewed Attorney Stewart Katz who said he reviewed the video and believes that the officer should have identified himself and warned Morales before shooting.
“I don’t think Mr. Morales was a suspect,” Katz said. “I don’t think he was involved. The only involvement he had in the shooting was getting shot.”