Newly released footage from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has revealed the fatal shooting of Samuel Nunez, a fleeing Hispanic man trapped in a cul-de-sac by deputies— despite not being a suspect of any crime. Deputies opened fire only 8.5 seconds after addressing Nunez verbally. Deputies immediately escalated the situation by forcibly blocking his escape.
On Sunday March 13th, 2022 at around 6:05 PM, deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) fatally shot a Hispanic man in Palmdale, CA. They initially did not say that he was armed. According to an updated press release from the department, deputies from Palmdale station were following up on a domestic violence call that they had received earlier in the day. Upon arriving late to the scene, deputies say they tried to contact Nunez, a random Hispanic male who was in the driver’s seat of a vehicle. Deputies did not clarify why they honed in on Nunez, but the press release’s wording suggests that they profiled him and assumed he might be the individual responsible for the alleged domestic violence incident. The man in the vehicle attempted to flee, but deputies would not allow him to.
Again, it’s unclear why this man wasn’t allowed to leave. The press release does not specify anything that could have indicated that he was involved in a crime. The man attempted to exit in the vehicle but, according to the department, the vehicle the man was driving hit two patrol cars. It was at this moment that LASD decided to shoot and kill the man. It’s unclear how many deputies fired or how many rounds were fired. Only after he was killed did the department clarify that the victim of the deputy shooting had nothing to do with the alleged domestic violence call. Deputy Tracy Koerner of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau said, “it was later determined the suspect was not involved in the early domestic violence call.”
Deputies say they attempted to render aid until the Los Angeles Fire Department arrived and took over, but the man was pronounced dead at the scene.
There has already been an outcry over this shooting following the revelation that the individual killed was not even involved in the alleged domestic violence incident. San Francisco Police Commissioner John Hamasaki posted on Twitter saying that the increasing calls to “fund the police, unleash the police” from politicians has resulted in “skyrocketing police violence and killings.”
With the recent release of body camera and security camera videos, deputies say that it was later determined that the vehicle Nunez was driving was stolen and that he allegedly had a ghost gun in the car. There was no indication of a gun in their original press releases or correspondence with the media. Notably, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has been repeatedly accused of lying and planting guns after fatal shootings.
Samuel Nunez was very loved and is greatly missed according to his family. He leaves behind his mother, grandmothers, sisters, nieces, nephew, and numerous cousins.
After nearly one year of waiting, I have finally obtained the autopsy for Samuel Nunez. Six shots were fired at Samuel Nunez with a 9mm handgun by Los Angeles Sheriff's deputy Chad Melton. Nunez's head, scalp, brain, neck, facial bones, tongue, and upper left extremities were ravaged in the burst of gunfire that came only seconds after deputies addressed Nunez. For the record: I ordered this autopsy right after the shooting happened, in March of 2022. But I only received the autopsy in January 2023. The body camera video wasn't released until November 2022. This is a huge roadblock for covering fatal shootings by law enforcement. By the time the public has access to autopsies or body camera video, it's typically nearly a year later and the media will have moved on already.