*As soon as we saw the headline about a black man, a baseball bat and Walmart, we knew it the story was not going go have a happy ending.
Here’s what we know. Or at least surmise. The incident happened Sunday afternoon when police were called to a San Leandro, California Walmart around 3:30pm following reports of a robbery and found a man just inside the store entrance wielding a baseball bat.
There was no robbery, but San Leandro police arrived and confronted the man, identified as Steven Demarco Taylor who is seen in viral videos of the incident holding onto the bat as officers aimed weapons at him. He allegedly threatened one or both of the police officers, and one of them shot him in the torso. He can be seen walking away from the officers after the shot was fired, and then dropping the bat just before collapsing on the floor. Watch below
A MAN KILLED INSIDE WALMART BY POLICE IN SAN LEANDRO, CA pic.twitter.com/BO7THfVrKy
— Sarun Kheav (@KheavSarun) April 21, 2020
San Leandro Walmart on Hesperian ⚠️⚠️⚠️⚠️ pic.twitter.com/vsO0sW7aDF
— Gabi? (@_maamaas) April 19, 2020
Taylor was 33 and lived in San Leandro, according to KTVU television. So just what were the officers thinking? Why did they feel it necessary to shoot Taylor? Well, in a statement to media, Lt. Ted Henderson of the San Leandro Police Department said:
“Both officers deployed their tasers which was not successful. After those deployments, one officer fired one shot. The report is he was swinging a bat. We don’t know how close he was to the officer.”
Lt. Henderson also told ABC 7 this …
“If there is a taser deployment, there has to be some type of perceived threat and this is an active threat.”
A shopper at the store told ABC 7 that it was fairly crowded at the time of the incident.
“It’s scary. I was at the back of the store and all I heard was a bunch of people running,” she said. And another anonymous shopper tells KTVU that some people thought there might be an active shooter situation. “Not knowing what’s going on you get kind of a lot of emotions, lotta fear,” the shopper said. “You kind of want to cry just kind of based on the history that we have with active shooters…”
Reportedly, 20 witnesses are being interviewed in connection with the shooting. As The (San Francisco) Chronicle reports, three investigations are now underway: an administrative review of the shooting, a criminal investigation, and an independent investigation by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.
Meanwhile, Lee Merritt, the Texas-based civil rights attorney has been retained by Taylor’s family. He released a press release saying in part that the two cops used “force without proper justification” and pointed out they were “poorly trained to deal with individuals suffering from a mental health crisis.”
Merritt said the video footage “is sufficient evidence for authorities to issue an arrest warrant for the shooting officers. He also called on the San Leandro Police department to identify the officers, who he said pose a “deadly threat” to the public.
This office has been retained to represent the family of #SteveTaylor who was gunned down and tased to death by @SanLeandroPD at an area @Walmart. Use of force was excessive to the point of criminal once Steve was disarmed and otherwise defenseless. pic.twitter.com/hKDayawsLi
— S. Lee Merritt, Esq. (@MeritLaw) April 20, 2020
As of this posting, it still remains unclear why Taylor was swinging the bat or how the incident began.