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Officials release body camera video of the Isaias Cervantes shooting


The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department on Wednesday released body camera footage showing the moments before a deputy shot and wounded a mentally ill man at his Cudahy home last month.

The March 31 shooting of Isaias Cervantes, 25, prompted calls for an independent investigation and renewed protests over how police respond to mental health calls.

The incident began when Cervantes’ sister called 911 to report that her brother, who she said was mentally disabled and hard of hearing, was being aggressive with their mother and pushing her.

“He’s here in the house,” she said, according to a recording released by the Sheriff’s Department. “Can you guys send him to a hospital?”


Isaias Cervantes

(Courtesy of Judy Mark)

Deputies arrived and spoke with Cervantes’ mother, Rosa Padilla, for more than four minutes before entering the home.

In the video, Padilla is heard telling the deputies her son is upset that she won’t buy him a snack. Earlier, she says, he had called 911 himself and left the phone off the hook. She tells the deputies that police have been to their home before to speak with Cervantes and that he has not been aggressive with them. She says he suffers with mental health issues and is on his medication.

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The footage shows deputies approach the front door to the house. One of them calls out to Cervantes, who is sitting on the couch inside the living room, and asks him to come to the door. Cervantes refuses and remains on the couch.

“You’re not under arrest but you’re not giving me no option to put, to place handcuffs on you,” the deputy says from the doorway.

The two deputies then walk inside the home.

“I’m just here to help you out,” one deputy says, asking Cervantes to stand up. “You’re not under arrest, just stand up, please.”

The deputies each grab one of Cervantes’ arms as he stands up. When the deputy begins to handcuff him, Cervantes appears to jerk his arm and body, prompting a struggle. Video cameras worn by both deputies fall off but continue to record. One deputy is heard yelling, “He’s going for my gun! He’s going for my gun!”

The second deputy responds: “Does he have your gun?”

Moments later, a single gunshot is fired. A deputy yells out, “Let go!” multiple times and broadcasts the shooting over his radio.

About 50 seconds after the gunshot, while the deputies are still struggling to subdue Cervantes, a deputy says he needs to secure his gun and tells his partner to handcuff Cervantes. In the background, someone can be heard telling Cervantes to let go of the gun.

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Soon after, a deputy says, “I got his hand off, I got his hand away from my belt.” Cervantes is heard groaning.

Austin Dove, an attorney representing Cervantes and his family, said in a statement Wednesday that Cervantes remained hospitalized and might be paralyzed.

The Sheriff’s Department said that, during an interview after the shooting, an unidentified family member said Cervantes was upset over his father being in the hospital and told the relative to call the police and “tell them to shoot me.”

There’s no indication from the footage that the deputies called the Sheriff’s Department’s Mental Evaluation Team, a specialized unit deputies can summon when they believe someone is suffering from mental illness. Its members usually work in pairs: a deputy and a licensed mental health clinician trained to deescalate situations without the use of force.

Dove said in his statement that deputies entered the home when Cervantes was “calm and posing no threat, yet the officers escalated the situation, ending in the senseless shooting of an unarmed deaf man with autism.”

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