The Fresno police released video Wednesday from body cameras worn by the two officers who shot to death an unarmed 19-year-old, Dylan Noble, on June 25. The footage documents the entire six minutes that culminated in Noble’s death, after he was shot four times, including once with a shotgun as he lay prone on the ground, writhing in agony.
There has been comparatively little media attention paid to this police killing—until the release of the gruesome video—because it did not fit the narrative established by the US political establishment and the corporate-controlled media, which portrays all police killings as racial incidents involving white cops and black victims. Both Dylan Noble and the two policemen who killed him were white.
The footage shows police pulling over Noble’s truck after they received a radio report about a man allegedly carrying a rifle near the Fresno airport. The two cops claim that they began following Noble because he was driving quickly away from the airport, then pulled him over and into a gas station.
The video shows Noble exiting his pickup, putting up his hands, then putting one hand back behind him. It is not clear what he was doing, but the officers certainly knew that he was not holding a rifle, the nominal reason for the stop. Moreover, while the rifle-toting man was described as wearing camouflage, Noble had on a black t-shirt.
The police thus had no probable cause to proceed any further—there was no traffic violation—and Noble should have been left in peace instead of gunned down.
At one point Noble shouted, “I fucking hate my life,” which apologists for the two police claim was a declaration of intent to commit suicide by cop. Noble’s friends and family point to the 19-year-old’s otherwise happy life, including a roofing job, a girlfriend and plans to go to college and become a counselor.
One cop fired two shots, dropping Noble to the ground. What follows is even more disturbing. The wounded young man is twitching and writhing on the ground, likely overcome with pain and shock. The two cops, now joined by a backup armed with a shotgun, continue to demand that he show his hands, although he appeared to have lost control of his motor functions under the impact of the first two bullets.
Then the first cop fires a third bullet into Noble, and the backup officer fires a shotgun blast.
Noble died at a nearby hospital as doctors tried unsuccessfully to stanch his massive wounds.
Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer ordered the release of the body-camera footage after a cellphone video came to light, taken by a passer-by, which showed only the final two shots. Dyer said he had intended to release the footage on July 8, but postponed the action after five policemen were shot to death in Dallas, Texas.
Noble’s father Darren was shown the body-camera footage on July 8, and promptly demanded that the two policemen face murder charges. “They executed him,” he told YourCentralValley.com on Wednesday. “There was no reason for them to even have guns drawn down on him for a traffic stop.”
Noble’s mother filed a legal claim against the city charging “significant emotional and mental distress as a result of the senseless and brutal shooting death of her son,” according to the Fresno Bee .
“The officers never had an objectively reasonable basis to shoot Dylan Noble,” her complaint says. “At no time did they use or attempt to use their K-9. At no time did they use or attempt to use a TASER.”
Chief Dyer told a press conference that the footage was baffling to him. “We’re talking about a 19-year-old young man who doesn’t have any criminal history, and we’re trying to figure out why this occurred,” he said.
“Were the last two rounds fired by the officers necessary?” he asked. “Based on a reasonable fear, did the officers have to use deadly force? I do not have the answer to that today.” He added, “That video was extremely disturbing to watch.”
The police chief conceded, “I anticipate that some of this video will answer many of the questions out there in the community; however, I also believe this video is going to raise questions in the minds of people just as those questions exist in my mind as well.”
While the media coverage has treated the killing of Dylan Noble as the exception to the rule (i.e., to the rule that most of those killed by the police are young black men), whites actually comprise a larger proportion of police victims than blacks or Hispanics.
The latest figures compiled by the Washington Post for the past 18 months, since January 1, 2015, found that of 1,502 people shot and killed by on-duty police officers, 732 were white, 381 were black, and 382 were Hispanic, Asian, or of unknown racial heritage.
These figures demonstrate conclusively that while racism undoubtedly plays a role—blacks are three times as likely as whites to become the victims of a police killing—the overriding common factor among all the victims is that they are working-class and low-income.
The police are not invading the precincts of the wealthy to gun down people who flee, or who make the “wrong” move when stopped for a traffic violation. It is not wealthy people who sell cigarettes like Eric Garner or CDs like Alton Sperling, or who are cornered at gas stations and shot down wantonly like Dylan Noble.