A Raleigh police officer shooting 24-year-old Javier Torres is just one incident on a growing list of police-involved shootings in the city. Torres’ shooting, which sparked outrage in Raleigh and resulted in an immediate protest, stemmed from officers alleging that he stole pizza from a nearby store. The incident was recorded, as well as the aftermath via an onlooker, who was able to capture three separate videos, including a formidable police response by several vehicles. However, over the last few years, the Raleigh Police Department has been involved in several shootings, which sparked the creation of a community task force to combat the department’s lack of transparency, and to advocate for police oversight.
A woman, who filmed the Torres shooting and initially mistook him for a teenager, said “He was running with a pizza and they shot this little boy.” Another bystander said, “The little boy stole a pizza and they shot him in his back.”
Watch the videos, which includes expletives.
The Raleigh Police Department, which is headed by a Black woman – Cassandra Deck-Brown, quickly released a statement on the shooting. “At approximately 6:40 p.m., Raleigh Police officers responded to a call of a man with a gun in the 1000 block of N. Rogers Lane. When officers arrived at the scene, they observed an individual who matched the description given by the 911 caller. This individual was later identified as Javier Torres (DOB 8/3/93). Mr. Torres ran upon the arrival of the responding officers and a foot chase ensued, during which police repeatedly ordered Mr. Torres to stop and drop the gun. During the chase, Mr. Torres was shot one time by a responding officer. He was transported to a nearby hospital by EMS. A handgun, as described by the 911 caller, was located at the scene of the shooting,” Raleigh PD said.
Last month, a Raleigh police officer shot and killed a man, whose mother said he faced mental health challenges, according to a report from Yahoo. Keith Dutree Collins was shot multiple times by an officer after police received a call of a man “who had a gun and was acting strange,” according to WRAL. The mother also said that he was “petrified of police.”
The bodycam footage showed the officer, W.B. Tapscott, approaching Collins, who “briefly raised his hands and began running down the street as the officer followed closely behind shouting,” the report says. The officer yelled, “Show me your hands!” as Collins ran.
Collins was shot four times and appeared to be waving his arms and legs after yelling, “I’m listening,” to the officer.
Tapscott fired three more shots, followed by four additional shots. Collins then said he was holding “nothing but a BB gun,” which police later investigated and determined he was, in fact, carrying a BB gun.
Activist Kerwin Pittman, who was present at the protest for the Torres shooting, said in an interview with Indy Week earlier this year that he would like to “see better transparency from the Raleigh Police Department when dealing with the community.”
“It was hard to watch,” Pittman also said of the bodycam footage from Collins’ killing. “Having viewed it, once the individual was on the ground, to continue to shoot when he’s on the ground seems a little excessive. It seemed like you eliminated the threat. It seemed like target practice.”
In January, Raleigh police beat and bloodied a man named Braily Batista during a police stop. Video footage was released of the incident, showing an officer repeatedly kneeing and hitting Batista while trying to remove him from his vehicle. A second officer then helped to forcefully remove the man from the car and pinned him to the ground.
“I got stitches here and I got a black eye. I got a couple bruises on my cheeks, arms bruised up,” he told CBS17.com of the incident.
The Raleigh Police Department released a statement about the incident saying, Batista was involved in a hit and run. “Before officers arrived on the scene the suspect vehicle fled the area and was involved in a second hit and run in a parking lot at St. Albans Drive and Wake Forest Road,” the statement read.
In 2016, a Raleigh police officer shot and killed 24-year-old Akiel Denkins, whom the police department claimed had a felony drug charge and a gun was found near the scene. Community members said otherwise, insisting that he was unarmed and “shot in the back six or seven times,” according to Indy Week.
The Raleigh Police Community Task Force was established shortly after Denkins’ killing, according to the News Observer, to “advocate for more police oversight.”
Earlier this month, “The council voted to create a police advisory board that would review the police department’s policies and procedures, but wouldn’t have investigative powers,” the report says.
It is unclear when the police advisory board will go into effect, but perhaps this incident will expedite the process.