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Family: Mentally ill man shot in back

May 20, 2008 7:59:46 AM PDT
An autopsy will be conducted Tuesday on the body of a mentally ill man shot and killed by Long Beach Police.Reports claim that police did not deploy a mental health team to help diffuse the situation last Saturday.

The police and witnesses have conflicting views as to what led to the shooting of 46-year old Roketi Su'e.

"There was still this ongoing struggle between the officer and the suspect for this baton. At that point, the suspect then punched the officer in the face," said Long Beach Police spokeswoman Nancy Pratt.

Police said Su'e turned violent, but family and neighbors said he was unarmed, shirtless and lying face down when he was shot in the back.

"Next thing you know, the officer backs up a couple of steps, boom boom, boom boom, boom boom shoot him. There was no reason. He was unconscious," said neighbor Chrystal Pagota.

"He shot him about four times, paused for a second and shot him about additional two times, and then right after. he said that, he was shaking and he backed up and he was saying, 'oh My God, I can't believe I just shot him. Oh My God, I can't believe I just shot him,'" said neighbor Billy Moses.

The family said police knew Su'e from previous yelling episodes. Relatives say he had no problems leaving with officers.

Su'e's family has hired a law firm and will hold a news conference Tuesday morning.

 

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