By Jay Conner, The Root
On Saturday, Instagram user @blueasdasky released a nearly five-minute long video she recorded of Hawthorne, Calif., police drawing their weapons on an unarmed black man.
In the viral clip, she can be heard pleading for police not to shoot a man who identifies himself as William and asserts he’s actually the victim of violence at the hands of unruly police officers.
“Why are your guns pulled on this young man?” she asks.
“I ain’t got no weapons!” he replies into the camera. “Make sure you add that they attacked me. At the gas station, they attacked me.”
USA Today identified the man as William Ewell, 47, who was stopped by police for an alleged robbery-assault that reportedly happened June 7.
As the scene grows more intense, the woman eventually bursts into tears as she recalls her boyfriend suffering a similar fate (“They killed my boyfriend in 2015!”) and begs for police not to take William’s life.
“I don’t understand why y’all got guns drawn on him right now. Are y’all about to kill this man?” she asks. “Like, look at these big-ass guns they got on this man right now.”
Eventually, one of the officers approaches the woman and despite what she’s just witnessed, attempts to assure her that the situation is under control.
“We got a call about a robbery […] he seemed to match the description we’re just detaining him. We’re not saying he’s a suspect […] try to relax. It says a weapon was involved that’s the only reason he gets held at gunpoint,” the officer says. “It’s just for our safety and everybody around’s safety, OK?”
Since the release of the video, Twitter has been flooded by users expressing their disgust at Hawthorne PD.
In Hawthorne, California police had guns drawn on an unarmed black man, William. The pain you hear in the woman's voice is chilling. I felt it through the screen. Heartbreaking.
Here's the police department info:
12501 Hawthorne Blvd, Hawthorne, CA 90250
1 (310) 349-2700 pic.twitter.com/Ioz9zBOTp4
— Kenidra4Humanity (@KenidraRWoods_) June 9, 2019
Thankfully this situation concluded without the young man losing his life, but it’s scary to imagine how it might have ended had the woman not been there to document what was going on.
This article originally appeared in The Root.