Noble’s death has sparked outrage in the community, as well as an impromptu protest in which mourners carried signs reading “White Lives Matter,” a reference to the “Black Lives Matter” movement against alleged police racism. The Noble family believes the teenager was “murdered,” and is suing the city.
The video shows officers confronting Noble, guns drawn, as he sits in a pickup truck at a local gas station. Officers tell him to put both of his hands up, but Noble only puts one hand through the driver’s side window. Later, Noble emerges from the truck and is seen raising only one hand, ignoring demands to show both hands as he walks toward police. Two shots are heard, and he collapses in agony. Officers demand that he put both hands above his head, and he is shot two more times on the ground.
Noble is seen holding something, later determined to be “a 4-inch-by-4-inch piece of clear plastic with what appears to be a grayish clay inside,” according to Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer, the Fresno Bee reports. The object is being analyzed by the U.S. Department of Justice, the Bee notes.
In addition, Dyer told officers “I [expletive] hate my life,” fueling speculation at the time that he was attempting to commit “suicide-by-cop.” Family members say he was merely intoxicated, the Bee reports.
Dyer called the press conference in which the video was released “the most important” of his career and pleaded with the community for calm, according to the Fresno Bee. He added that he himself has doubts about whether the third and fourth shots were necessary. “I, too, have questions about the last two rounds fired,” he said, according to the Bee.
The case echoes ongoing nationwide doubts about police officers’ use of lethal force in general, but runs counter to the prevailing narrative that such force is motivated by racism. A recent Harvard study showed a lack of racial bias in the use of lethal force by police.