Azucena Zamorano attended a community meeting last night in Charlotte, North Carolina, hosted by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, hoping to get answers about why the father of her five children, 29-year-old Rueben Galindo was shot and killed by police last month. Zamorano sat in front of Police Chief Kerr Putney and asked him straight out: “I don’t understand why he was shot.” All he said in response was “Yes, ma’am, I understand” and “I am sorry for your loss.”
CREDIT: Héctor Vaca
The tragic shooting, which is currently under investigation, took place on Sept. 6, and the events that unfolded prior to the fatal shooting are very confusing. According to several news outlets, Zamorano says that Galindo (her common-law partner) called 911 to tell them he was surrendering his gun. Jaqueline Guerra, a friend of the family, told the Charlotte Observer that Galindo wanted to give the police his gun because he had an upcoming court appearance and didn’t want to be deported because of it. According to Zamorano’s attorney Brian Hochman, Galindo had been in the United States 14 or 15 years.
In the 911 call, Galindo tells the 911 operator that he needs to speak with someone who speaks Spanish. It takes about a minute for the transfer to take place, and even then the call gets even more confusing because Galindo is on the phone with the operator and the translator.
In the initial 911 call, which lasted 14-minutes and has been released, Galindo sounds a bit disoriented but even more confused because of the three-way conversation between himself, the operator and the translator. He tells them he needs help but isn’t specific about what kind of help he needs. He keeps saying, “Will the police help me or not?” He also tells them that his gun does not have bullets and requests the presence of Officer Hernandez on the scene. There are also a couple of instances in which the things Galindo says are not relayed to the operator in detail.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has released the 911 calls along with the body-cam videos. WARNING: Below is footage of the fatal shot.
Héctor Vaca of Action NC, an organization that helps the low-income community in Charlotte, tells mitú that the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department released the footage in a calculated way so people would conclude that Galindo was brandishing a gun.
Acompáñenos en una reunion con Chief Kerr Putney y policias de CMPD. El 10/12/17 a las 6:30 PM para una conversacion…
Vaca says they did this by releasing a screenshot first, in which they circled the gun. Then they linked out to the video.
The actual video shows Galindo with both hands raised.
Galindo appears outside for less than 10 seconds before he is shot. The video clearly has the police yelling “manos, manos” to Galindo, and he indeed shows his hands. When he raises them, the police shoot.
According to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, “Officers gave multiple commands to Mr. Galindo to drop the weapon. Mr. Galindo refused to drop the gun and the officers perceived an imminent deadly threat. The officers subsequently fired their weapons striking Mr. Galindo and immediately requested Medic.”
The only verbal command that can be heard on the video is “manos.”
Is this is a case of words being lost in translation? Attorney Brian Hochman, Zamorano’s representative, tells mitú that whatever was going on with Galindo before the police arrived on the scene is a distraction because what matters is what you see in the video.
“There’s no question that the command they gave him is ‘manos,'” Hochman says. “The next command they give is ‘drop the gun’ in English.”
Hochman wonders if Galindo understood the word “drop” because he says that’s not a word you use every day. Hochman says Galindo specifically requested a Spanish speaking officer during the 911 call, and at the “most critical moment is when they spoke to him in English.”
“When you focus on the actual videotape, there’s nothing that any reasonable person [watching the video] can say that can be construed as threatening,” Hochman says. “He is standing there with the hands in the air.”
Alma Hernandez of Action NC told the Charlotte Observer that the meeting did not answer their questions. According to Hernandez, police spent too much time “hotdogging” throughout the meeting and ended before everyone’s questions were answered.