San Bernardino chief says officers fatally shot man out of fear he was about to fire at them

Jory Rand Image
Wednesday, July 20, 2022
San Bernardino police chief addresses deadly officer-involved shooting
San Bernardino police have released a detailed explanation of an incident in which officers fatally shot an armed man as he was fleeing in a parking lot.

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (KABC) -- San Bernardino police have released a detailed explanation of an incident in which officers fatally shot an armed man as he was fleeing in a parking lot.

San Bernardino Police Chief Darren Goodman discusses why officers opened fire on a man in a business parking lot on July 16.

Surveillance video of the incident that has circulated online is already generating controversy and raising questions about whether this was a justified shooting.

Rob Marquise Adams, 23, of San Bernardino, died after he was shot and then transported to a hospital on the night of Saturday, July 16.

Adams' family says the shooting was unjustified and he was simply scared and running away.

In the video narrative released by San Bernardino Police Chief Darren Goodman on Tuesday, he says the officers shot Adams because he failed to comply with their commands and continued to hold the gun as he tried to duck down between two parked cars. They feared he was going to take cover and shoot at them, while bystanders were nearby.

"Officers briefly chased Adams. But seeing that he had no outlet, they believed he intended to use the vehicle as cover to shoot at them," Goodman said in the video.

"The officers saw Adams look over his left shoulder, with the gun still in his right hand. Fearing that bystanders' or the officers' lives were in danger, one of the officers fired his gun, striking Adams."

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump and attorney Brad Gage are now representing Adams' family and are expected to address the case in a press conference Wednesday.

They issued a statement prior to the release of the bodycam video on Tuesday: "It is unbelievable that another Black family has to bury their child due to police shooting first and asking questions later. Robert appeared to be simply walking around the parking lot when officers exited their unmarked vehicle firing their weapons at him immediately. Robert never even had a chance to explain himself."

RELATED: Video raises questions about deadly officer-involved shooting in San Bernardino

The incident started just after 8 p.m. on West Highland Street.

In the video, an unmarked car pulls into the parking lot of a business, which allegedly houses an illegal gambling operation.

Adams is seen approaching the vehicle and reaching for his waistband. From the angle of a different video, he can be seen holding a gun in his right hand.

Although audio of the initial encounter was not recorded, police say when the officers exited the vehicle, they gave him commands to comply and he ignored them.

As the two uniformed officers emerge from the unmarked vehicle, Adams is seen running away between two cars parked against the wall of the building. One officer opens fire several times, hitting him.

Graphic bodycam video shows the officers then approach Adams and offer him medical assistance, with audio portraying one officer reassuring him, "Hey bro, you're gonna be OK, man. Hey, hey, you're gonna be OK. Stay with me, OK?"

The officers are then seen carrying him over to an ambulance. He was brought to a local hospital and died there.

Goodman said the public needs to learn more about the incident before passing judgment. Video that circulated online, he said, "fails to provide critical details or context as to what actually occurred during the incident."

The location, he said, has a history of criminal activity. Adams was believed to be a suspect in a previous armed robbery at the location, in which he allegedly held several people at gunpoint and was in possession of multiple firearms.

Goodman said Adams had an "extensive criminal history" and was on felony probation for armed robbery. He also had felony warrants for assault with a deadly weapon, possession of stolen property and robbery and a prior arrest and conviction for robbery.

A press conference with the victim's family is set for Wednesday at 12:30 p.m at San Bernardino City Hall.