On March 11, 2018, federal Judge John Dowdell has decided to release a shocking video related to a 2014 racketeering trial. Back in 2014, Siale Angilau was fatally shot to death while defending himself in court. The situation was quickly investigated by the FBI, and the agency found that the shooting was justified. Angilau’s family and the media were not convinced, and the family brought a wrongful death lawsuit against the U.S. Marshal that shot the defendant.
Judge Dowdell dismissed the wrongful death suit in large part because of this video evidence. The disturbing clip reveals that the defendant rose from his seat, grabbed a pen and sprinted towards a witness at the stand. The defendant cocked his weapon as the witness jumped back. An unidentified U.S. Marshal shot Angilau four times, and an unidentified individual called 911 at the end of the clip.
Initially, the Department of Justice wanted the video to remain private. Officials feared that releasing the video could lead to retaliatory gang violence because Angilau was a well-known member of the Tongan Crip gang. Despite this, the video evidence was requested by several journalists utilizing the Freedom of Information Act. The media pushed for the release of the video for years claiming it was public information regarding potential abuses in the use of deadly force by police. The released video attempts to protect the identities of those in the courtroom by blurring out the faces of the judges, jurors and attorneys present during the case.