The lawyer for the family of a man killed by Fontana police in 2015 released surveillance video Thursday of the shooting the lawyer says proves the shooting was not justified.
The blurry surveillance video was released with no audio by the law firm representing the family of James Hall, 46. Fontana police killed him while responding to an armed robbery call inside a Chevron on Nov. 22, 2015.
It appears in the video that officers tried negotiating with Hall for several minutes before sending in a police dog.
At that point, Hall appears to lift the rock up to his shoulder before scrambling to the corner of the store as officers, with guns drawn, surround him.
"What you observe is an individual who is clearly scared, who's frightened, who is doing nothing but cowering in the corner," said attorney Ben Meiselas, who is representing the Hall family in a lawsuit against the Fontana Police Department.
He says Hall was legally blind and suffered from mental health issues. He also says the video disputes the officers claims that hall lunged at them with the knife, putting their lives in danger.
"It was just nothing short of a coldblooded execution," Meiselas said.
In the video, it is difficult to see exactly what movement led to the shooting or which officer fired the fatal shot. But it does show that officers were several feet away as Hall swayed back and forth in the aisle before an officer opened fire.
Fontana police officials said they cannot comment on the case because it is still being reviewed by prosecutors, who are deciding if the shooting was justified.
"This is a tragic and unfortunate event for everyone involved," said Fontana police Sgt. Kevin Goltara. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and everyone affected by this."
Meiselas said the shooting also highlights the need for more officer training when they are faced with individuals who have mental health issues.
"Here you had a parade of force that turned lethal when you should have had a helping hand," he said.
"That show of militarized force in a mental health crisis escalated a situation that could have been de-escalated and that's ultimately problematic."