Federal Bureau of Investigation

Fresno Police Release Body-Worn Camera Footage of Teenager's Fatal Shooting

Police body-worn camera footage released Wednesday shows a tense traffic stop last month, during which Fresno officers shot a 19-year-old man — who they believed was armed — four times.

Dylan Noble was shot on June 25 after police responded to a call about a man who was armed with a rifle, NBC News reported. Officers contacted Noble, who was driving a pickup truck, and followed him off the street and into a gas station near Clovis and Clinton avenues around 3 p.m.

The two minute-plus video depicts officers giving Noble dozens of commands, including "Show both hands," "Drop whatever you have in your hand,"  and "You're going to get shot, man!" Despite being ordered to lie on the ground, Noble disobeyed the police and advanced toward them, with his right hand behind his back.

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said the officers thought their lives were in danger and opened fire when they saw Noble reaching into the waistband of his pants, potentially to draw out a gun. He added that the men who shot and killed Noble are veteran officers, each serving more than 15 years on the force.

"One of the officers said during his interview that he felt Noble was either taunting him or practicing pulling out a gun," Dyer said at a news conference Wednesday.

Dyer also said that when the officers confronted Noble, the teen said he "hated his life." After shooting at him twice, the officers continued to yell at Noble to stop moving his arms. He refused to comply, and was shot again, twice.

NBC News reported that the Fresno Police Department is investigating the need for the last two gunshots.

"I, too, have questions about the last two rounds that were fired," Dyer said. "Were they based on a reasonable fear?"

Police have since said Noble was unarmed and was carrying a ceramic container full of clay, NBC News said. The source of the original report about Noble carrying a rifle remains unknown.

Unfortunately, Dyer said, the officers didn’t know, in the heat of the moment, that Noble was not carrying a firearm.

"I've had the luxury of watching this video 40 times in my office and on the big screen, a luxury those officers didn't have," Dyer said.

The FBI is looking into Noble's death and a criminal investigation, scheduled to be done by August, is expected to rely on a coroner’s report and toxicology results, NBC News reported. The outcome of the investigation will decide whether the officers’ use of force was justified, police said.

"Tensions are high," Dyer said. "In some cases we are one spark away from a forest fire. And I pray this video doesn't serve as that spark ... This is not a time to become violent."

Even before police released the footage Wednesday, the fatal shooting had garnered nationwide attention because of graphic cell phone video recorded by a witness. It shows Noble lying on the ground as the two police officers stand over him, with their guns trained on his body. One shot is fired, and then another, as a third officer approaches the scene.

At one point, Noble's blurry body can be seen, with his arms raised, saying, "I've been shot."

Police have said that they believe Noble may have been trying to end his life, but people who knew him have disputed that allegation, the Fresno Bee reported.

On Wednesday, Stuart Chandler, the attorney for Dylan Noble’s mother Veronica Nelson, said, "We are pleased to discover from the media that Chief Dyer is belatedly providing the body camera footage to the general public."

Nelson has filed a lawsuit against the city for the officers' use of excessive force. It seeks unspecified damages. 

Editor's note: The following video contains graphic content.

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