But then it turns out that the shooting victim was not reaching for a gun or weapon at all...but instead was reaching for a cell phone or some other innocent object...or was never reaching for anything at all.
A federal jury in Los Angeles, California saw through the alleged state of mind/"waistband reaching" cop defense in a recent LAPD deadly force police shooting case. In that case, it turned out that the victim was actually holding a cell phone. No gun was found at the scene.
The jury awarded damages of over five million dollars to the victim, Robert Contreras, who was rendered quadriplegic as a result of the deadly force police shooting.
The LAPD is not the only police agency coming under criticism for alleged waistband reaching shootings. Pasadena cops appear to claim the defense in connection with the fatal police shooting of Kendrec McDade last March.
As far as the LASD is concerned, Special Counsel Merrick Bobb raised the issue of waistband reaching shootings in the September 2011 Report on the LASD. There were 53 "state of mind" shootings from 2005 to 2010 — all but two of which involved African-American or Latino suspects.
According to the Report: "It is troubling that state of mind shootings — particularly the subset of cases known as 'waistband shootings,' where the suspect is shot upon reportedly reaching for his waistband — appear to be increasing, making up about one-third of all hit and non-hit shooting cases in 2010. Waistband and other state of mind shootings are vulnerable to abuse because the justification for the shooting can be fabricated after the fact. It is challenging to prove or disprove what a police officer claims he or she saw."