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Video shows California police shooting teen they were supposed to rescue

Newly released footage shows the moment a 15-year-old kidnapping victim was shot by California police tasked with rescuing her
Newly released footage shows the moment a 15-year-old kidnapping victim was shot by California police tasked with rescuing her - Copyright AFP Andri Tambunan
Newly released footage shows the moment a 15-year-old kidnapping victim was shot by California police tasked with rescuing her - Copyright AFP Andri Tambunan

Newly released video shows US police shooting dead a kidnapped teenage girl they had been tasked with rescuing, in a chaotic incident on a busy California highway.

Savannah Graziano, 15, was gunned down as one deputy called her away from her gun-toting father, who had killed her mother a day earlier and abducted his daughter.

The episode unfolded in September 2022 when officers in San Bernardino County, east of Los Angeles, began chasing the vehicle Anthony Graziano was driving with Savannah in the passenger seat.

Footage filmed by a California Highway Patrol helicopter and released on Friday shows the pickup truck racing along at upwards of 110 miles (175 kilometers) an hour, with multiple shots fired at officers from inside Graziano’s vehicle.

The chase ended after Graziano went the wrong way up a freeway entrance ramp and came to a halt on scrubland, surrounded by police vehicles.

Footage released Friday shows Savannah getting out of the car and walking towards an officer, who can be heard on another recording calling her over.

Radio traffic apparently from the helicopter warns officers that Savannah is there.

“The girl’s out. The girl’s out. Alright, girl’s out, guys. The female… is out. She’s out on the passenger side,” a male voice says.

The footage shows Savannah crouching on the ground for several seconds before getting up and walking towards a group of police officers.

An apparent gunshot is heard on the video and Savannah is then blurred out as the voice on the radio says “Oh no.”

Audio captured by a microphone worn by an officer on the ground records him calling Savannah over.

“Come to me! Come, come, come… walk, walk, walk,” he says, as heavy gunfire rings out.

“Hey! Stop! Stop shooting her,” he tells his colleagues. “He’s in the car!”

A number of shots can be heard after this utterance.

The narration on the video, which was released by San Bernardino County Sheriff Coroner, describes this moment.

“You can hear him calling her over and telling other deputies that the person who exited the truck was the passenger and for them to stop firing, but it was too late.”

The teenager was declared dead in a local hospital.

Her father was pronounced dead at the scene. Multiple weapons and items of body armor were found in the pickup, along with hundreds of rounds of ammunition, police said.

The names of officers involved have not been released.

The incident is being investigated by California’s Department of Justice (DOJ).

San Bernardino Sheriff Shannon Dicus said Tuesday his department had been transparent in the aftermath of the incident.

“My hope is that this video will be watched in its entirety and provide insight into the unfortunate events that unfolded that day,” he said.

“I would ask the public to allow the DOJ to complete its independent investigation before reaching a conclusion.”

The video was released just weeks after deputies from the same sheriff’s department shot dead a 15-year-old autistic boy who was having a mental health episode.

Both incidents have highlighted police use of force.

Violent encounters involving the public and police are not uncommon in the United States.

A tally by the Washington Post newspaper shows more than 1,100 people have been shot dead by officers nationwide in the last 12 months.

The figures are not official as police departments are not required to report incidents to the federal government.

Firearms claim tens of thousands of lives every year in the United States, a country where there are more guns than people.

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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