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Deadly police shooting of 23-year-old Black man Robert Adams now under investigation

'He hunted him down like a dog,' outrage after San Bernardino police shoot and kill Black man
'He hunted him down like a dog,' outrage after San Bernardino police shoot Black man in his back 02:26

Police are investigating an officer-involved shooting that fatally wounded a Black man on Saturday in San Bernardino, California. They say the man was armed at the time.

The incident occurred in a parking lot around 8 p.m., and was recorded by nearby surveillance cameras. Disturbing silent footage, which shows uniformed authorities emerge from an unmarked vehicle and shoot 23-year-old Robert Adams in the back, was shared to social media and has since sparked outrage online. 

In the video, which lasts about two minutes, Adams is first seen standing at the rear of a parked car speaking to someone he seems to know. He appears to face the unmarked police vehicle and briefly step toward it, at which point two officers exit the driver's and passenger seat doors with their guns drawn. Adams turns to run in the opposite direction and moves just a few paces before one officer discharges his weapon. The bullet strikes Adams in the back, and he falls to the ground.

Adams was transported to a hospital where he later died from his injuries. His mother, Tamika Deavila King, responded to the shooting and surveillance footage in comments to CBS Los Angeles this week. Like many others on Twitter and Facebook, she questioned the officer's decision to fire his gun. 

"I could understand if he was a threat to them," said King, referencing her son's actions on the tape in the moments leading up to the shooting. "But he was not a threat to them. He was running for his life."

Family members and friends — including one person identified as Adams' "best friend," who was seemingly able to provide a firsthand recollection of the shooting while speaking to CBS LA — have said that police did not verbally communicate with Adams at all during the deadly interaction. However, the San Bernardino Police Department wrote that both officers "attempted to give Adams verbal commands" in a statement released on Monday.

Both officers belonged to the department's specialized investigative unit and were deployed to the site of the shooting after reportedly receiving information that "a Black male armed with a gun was in the parking lot of an illegal online gambling business," according to San Bernardino PD. The statement says Adams pulled a gun from his waistband as he walked toward the unmarked police vehicle and was still carrying the gun while he tried to run away.

An investigation into the circumstances surrounding Adams' death is underway. The police department suggested that the surveillance clip "fails to provide any details or context as to what occurred during the incident" and asked community members to "please withhold their judgement on the situation until they have all the available facts and details."

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