CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg police will release video of an officer-involved shooting that killed a 29-year-old man in northeast Charlotte after a judge ruled Thursday that there's "compelling public interest."
"I certainly don't enter into this lightly," the Judge said. "I have reviewed everything presented to me. I have watched those videos. I believe this is the fair and just thing to do. More importantly, I believe I'm following the law."
Reuben Galindo was fatally shot after calling the police to say he had a gun. Galindo was not speaking English when he called the emergency line, police say.
The incident happened at the Hunters Pointe Apartments along the 1900-block of Prospect Drive around 9:30 p.m. Sept. 6. The area is near W. Sugar Creek Road.
According to police, when officers arrived they found an armed man, later identified as Galindo, outside the apartment complex. Officers reportedly told Galindo multiple times to drop the weapon.
Galindo refused to drop the weapon, according to police, and the officers perceived an imminent deadly threat. According to the police chief, at least two police officers fired their weapons and shot the man. He died from his injuries.
No officers were injured in the incident.
The Charlotte Observer and community organization, Action NC, petitioned for the release of the police video.
Action NC says some in the community don't believe what police say happened.
"They had varying reports of what happened. A lot of them are inconsistent with what police are saying," said Robert Dawkins of Action NC. "But the main issue that keeps coming up - was there an issue with language barrier?"
"It's never a problem when the truth comes out. Videos are impartial" Hector Vaca said.
Attorneys representing the officers involved in the fatal shooting argued against releasing the video now.
They say it will hurt the ongoing investigation.
"If there are potential criminal charges, we don't believe the public's right to know should trump his due process rights to a fair trial," Attorney Michael Greene said.
"Problem is once you release that video and it gets on that public domain, it's free for comment, free for editorialization and anybody who wants to and that's what juries see" Attorney George Laughrun told the Judge.
Mecklenburg County District Attorney's Office also argued against releasing the video.
"It's not a question of transparency, it's a question of allowing the process to complete before that happens," Assistant District Attorney Bill Stetzer said. "Our obligation is to find the true facts and be as to be transparent as we can but when we have to choose between transparency and finding the true facts of seeking justice we're going to err every time of true facts and seeking justice."
The judge believes that the release of the video will not hurt the investigation.
The video is expected to be released Oct. 6. The judge requested to see the video before it is released to the public.
As is standard procedure with any officer involved shooting, the Internal Affairs Bureau will conduct a separate but parallel investigation to determine whether CMPD policies and procedures were adhered to during the course of the incident.