The Del Norte Sheriff’s Office has released the video of last month’s shooting death of Robert Anderson at the hands of Del Norte Police in California.
Anderson was shot and killed on August 25 after police responded to a call about a Black man holding a knife and walking in traffic near Parkway Drive and Sherwood Lane. Police posted two videos of the incident on their YouTube page.
The first video begins as police arrive on the scene. An officer, who was already on the scene, calmly talks with Anderson and it seems he has deescalated the situation. One officer explains to the arriving officers that Anderson has put the large kitchen knife in his pocket, but wouldn’t drop it when asked. Officers continue to press Anderson about the knife until he drops it in the dirt, but his mental state is not intact.
Barefoot and fidgeting, Anderson rambled on about being lied to and how they were living in the Matrix. Police continue to ask him to move away from the knife. At each ask, he would become visibly more agitated.
Anderson then directs his attention at a female bystander on the scene who appears to have had a relationship with him. He continues his rant about coming cleaning and understanding who controls the police. Mentally this man was broken, it’s pretty clear in the video.
Anderson then reaches down for the knife and charges at the police. You can hear screams as multiple officers shoot Anderson in the back. It is not clear from the video if any officers were in front of Anderson, but the video does show most of the officers, if not all, put bullets into his back.
It’s also not clear if Anderson was charging for the woman or trying to run away, though police accounts say he was charging after the woman.
Robert Anderson was mentally ill. Deadly force was used before any officers thought about his mental health. They didn’t look to talk him down and they didn’t try to change or help his mental state. Many people of color take issue with this because we’ve seen time and time again, police use other means besides deadly force to subdue a person who is having a mental breakdown. Robert Anderson needed help, not a bullet. Four or five officers shooting tasers that day could have saved his life, but instead a Black man with mental health issues is vilified and gone forever.
Officers involved in the shooting are being investigated by the California Highway Patrol’s Northern Division Critical Incident Investigation Team.