STROUDSBURG, Pa. — Newly released, unredacted footage of the moments before Christian Hall, a Chinese-American teenager, was fatally shot by Pennsylvania State Police last December is prompting renewed calls for an independent investigation.
Hall, 19, was shot on a highway overpass on Dec. 30, 2020, while holding what appeared to be a real gun but turned out to be a pellet gun. An initial state police news release claimed that troopers fired their guns in response to Hall pointing the gun at them, but footage released by the Monroe County District Attorney’s office in March blurred and redacted the final seconds of video before the shooting.
The new unredacted video, obtained by Spotlight PA and NBC News from Hall’s parents, Fe and Gareth Hall, shows that Hall kept his hands above his head for 14 seconds, with the gun pointed away from the police.
With his hands still up, troopers fired a series of gunshots at Hall. His hands only fell to clutch his stomach before he crumpled to the ground.
Ben Crump, the attorney representing Hall’s family and who also represented George Floyd’s and Breonna Taylor’s families, said his legal team “had to push relentlessly” for almost a year to obtain the unredacted video.
“When we have to push so hard, it begs the question: ‘What is there to hide?’” Crump said in a statement to the USA TODAY Network. “In this case, we now know the terrible answer. The truth behind the most central facts of this case was hidden from the Hall family, from our team, and from the public.”
The statement added: “Pennsylvania State Police tried to sell one version of events in which Christian was advancing toward them and pointing the supposed gun at them – but now we, and the whole world, know that Christian did not advance toward officers and in fact had his arms raised in the universal position of surrender when he was shot repeatedly and unnecessarily.”
The Monroe County DA’s office found the police shooting justified, declining to ask Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office for an outside review.
In Pennsylvania, local DAs investigate shootings by police, and the attorney general can’t step in without invitation.
Pennsylvania Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, who spoke about Hall’s shooting at a march in Monroe County and a rally in Philadelphia, said Thursday that District Attorney E. David Christine Jr. should recuse himself and let the attorney general’s office conduct “a thorough and fair investigation.”
“What we need right now is justice for his family, and there’s something that could be done right now. The DA could just do the right thing,” Kenyatta said.
Contributing: Celina Tebor, USA TODAY