A video from a security camera shows the body of José Juan Méndez, the teen shot by LAPD during a traffic stop in February, being dragged several feet by two police officers after the shooting. The existence of the video –discovered by the teen’s parents and their lawyer– was reported this week by the LA Weekly.
Attorney Arnoldo Casillas –who says he will represent the teen’s family in a civil lawsuit against the city– allowed the publication to review the video but not to publish it online. He said he and José’s parents, Juan and Josefina Méndez, discovered the video the day after the Feb. 6 shooting while visiting the scene. The Weekly reports the video shows the moment the vehicle the 16-year-old Méndez was driving comes to a stop in a residential driveway on East 6th Street. Immediately a patrol car pulls in, two officers exit the patrol car with their guns drawn and pointed, then circle the vehicle with Méndez still at the wheel.
The video does not show the actual shooting because the glare from the patrol car obstructs the view, but a few minutes after the shooting the officers are seen dragging the teen’s body about 30 feet from the driveway and laying him face down on the sidewalk. Later, according to the Weekly’s account, officers remove an object from the teen’s shorts and he is handcuffed with his hands in the back.
The LAPD did not mention that they body was dragged when the department’s original findings on the shooting were released in February. A public information officer interviewed by the Weekly said she had not seen the video and did not know that the body had been moved.
Except for some extreme circumstances, bodies in shootings or crime scenes are not supposed to be moved unless authorized by the Coroner’s office.
According to the police account of the events, when the officers approached the vehicle the driver’s door opened. The officers claim they saw Méndez point a sawed-off shotgun at one of the officers before the officer-involved shooting occurred.
The LA County Coroner’ office has not released its autopsy of Méndez’s body but Casillas hired a forensic pathologist to perform a private autopsy, which concluded the teen received numerous shots to the head and three to the back. There were 13 gunshot wounds in the body, according to the private autopsy.
According to the family’s attorney, the time stamp on the video is in disagreement with the LAPD’s account of the shooting. Méndez was declared dead at the scene at 10:56 but the video shows the body being moved at 10:46, after he was presumably dead.
Photo above: Juan and Josefina Méndez show a photo of their teen, José Méndez, during a protest in February in front of the Hollenbeck police station. Photo by Antonio Mejías-Rentas