S.B. Police Rob Adams Shooting Controversy
By Dianne Anderson
Any questions of whether or not San Bernardino police thought that Rob Adams was the actual suspect they were looking for, or whether or not he had a gun, doesn’t address why they had to shoot him in the back multiple times as he ran in the opposite direction.
That and other discrepancies are what civil rights lawyers are asking for the Adams’ family and his mother Tamika Deavila King, who says she was on the phone talking with her son through those fatal shots.
Her attorneys said she has not yet been able to view his body at press time, and they don’t know why.
“She didn’t even get to tell him goodbye and I love you because she heard the gunfire. She heard the shots in rapid succession, and she never heard her son’s voice again. Don’t let them [the police] try to say everything is justified,” said Attorney Ben Crump at a press conference held July 20 in front of San Bernardino City Hall.
Crump, nationally recognized, represented the George Floyd family’s legal team. He questioned why Black men have a target on their back while white men that are mass shooters consistently somehow get to live.
“We see young white men who are confirmed mass murderers and you don’t see the police get out and start shooting, but when it’s a Black person – who, they have no evidence that they’ve killed anybody — they [police] start shooting. How can you explain that San Bernardino?” Crump asked.
He condemned the police department for trying to explain away the available security footage to detract from what people can clearly see in the video. He said that 23-year-old Adams was on the cell phone when it happened.
The surveillance video is troubling on several levels, Crump said. Police rolled up in an unmarked car like they were going to rob him. Witnesses said nothing indicates that they identified themselves as police when the two officers jumped out of the car with guns pointed at Adams, who quickly pivoted and ran. Within three seconds of police getting out of the car, Adams was shot multiple times in the back.
“Why is it that police think the most dangerous thing in America is a Black man running away from them? How do they say he’s a threat running away from you?” Crump said.
Crump asked why the police didn’t call 911, and why they had to move him, dragging him by the arms and legs. Adams reportedly died at the hospital.
Bradley Gage, co-counsel with Crump, questioned what type of call came in that supposedly drew the police to that location in the first place, and what type of description they received other than a Black male with a gun.
In the video, it doesn’t appear that Adams pointed anything at the police. As soon as he saw the doors open with guns drawn, he turned to run a few steps in between two cars where he was shot and crawled to the front of the vehicle in the gutter. The officer stood with the gun pointed at him, but he was not moving.
Gage wants to see police accountability.
“All these videos are incomplete. It doesn’t start at the beginning so there’s missing information from the front end. There’s missing information from the back end, there’s a video of him screaming in pain, he didn’t die immediately,” he said.
He said police confiscated surveillance from at least eight businesses and an apartment complex in the area. He also questions why only one of the two bodycams was released.
“We want all the videos. We want the 911 calls, we don’t have that information yet. There’s a question of whether these officers have prior incidents,” said Gage of the Woodland Hills-based Goldberg & Gage.
He said the officer’s body-worn camera also shows Adams had a money bag that he had pulled out, and there doesn’t appear to be a gun.
He said it is a wrongful death case and a civil rights case. He is hoping for an independent investigation.
“I personally don’t think that if Rob was white, that he’d be dead right now,” he said.
An SBPD statement said uniformed police were at the scene in the unmarked car on Saturday, July 16 at about 8:05 p.m. Police at the scene were in uniform, having received information that a black male was armed with a gun in the parking lot.
The fatal shooting was in front of what the police describe as an illegal online gambling business located at the 400 block of west Highland Street. The release said Adams was with a friend.
But before that fatal shooting, a man a few feet away, ducked into a car a few seconds at the spot where Adams was gunned down.
Police show a magnified image of what could be a cell phone in Adams’ right hand, however they claim it is the gun. There is another image of the Taurus G3C handgun allegedly found at the scene.
According to the SBPD press statement, the officers were part of a Specialized Investigation Unit, and they immediately rendered aid, which is not evident from the surveillance video.
Nothing indicates that Adams received medical help from police at the scene in those first few crucial moments. Instead, the video shows that one officer had the gun pointed at Adams, who was not moving.
SBPD did not return calls for comment by press time.
Adams’ case is one of an expanding file of officer-involved fatal shootings across the nation. Mapping Police Violence, Inc. reports that police killed 1,125 people in the United States in 2021, with Blacks 2.9 times more likely to be killed than whites.
In a report, the National Lawyers Guild’s National Police Accountability Project outlines best practices that law enforcement agencies can implement to prevent hate group affiliations and race bias from endangering the public, including civilian oversight. They recommend officer performance be monitored more tightly with regular checks on criminal convictions, and community complaints, to monitor officers’ social media, among other things, to determine bias.
The Guild also supported California Senate Bill 2 (Sen. Bradford D-Los Angeles), and (Sen. Atkins D-San Diego), which passed last September. SB 2 looks to revoke the license of police officers for serious conduct, and prevents them from leaving one agency only to be employed by other police agencies.
“This statewide decertification process means that cops who have been fired, or resigned while under investigation for misconduct, can no longer bounce around from community to community. It also means officers who were fired for excessive force, sexual misconduct, and dishonesty will no longer continue to terrorize community members by finding a job somewhere else,” NLG said on their website.
For national police fatal shootings, see https://mappingpoliceviolence.