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California Police Department Under Scrutiny After Video of Officers Holding Unarmed Black Man at Gunpoint

Authorities in Hawthorne, California, are facing backlash following social media videos of what critics said shows officers using excessive force against an unarmed Black man.

The video, posted to Instagram last week, captures the moment Hawthorne officers draw their guns on 24-year-old William Ewell, who was suspected in an armed robbery on June 7. Ewell is seen kneeling on the sidewalk with his back to the officers and his hands clasped behind his head.

Hawthorne Police Department
Authorities said Wiliam Ewell was a suspect in a robbery at a local convenience store. (@blueasdasky / Instagram video screenshhot)

He repeatedly shouts that he is unarmed. Video of the arrest soon went viral, and featured emotional commentary from a woman identified only as Sky, who filmed the harrowing encounter. In the five-minute clip, she pleads with Ewell to “don’t move!” and “don’t resist” for fear that he would be shot by police.

“Why are your guns pulled on this young man?” she shouts at the gang of cops gathered at the scene. “He has no weapons on him. We live right now.”

Sky continues telling Ewell to relax, later revealing that her boyfriend died at the hands of police in 2015.

“Relax, baby. Relax,” she shouts, “because they will shoot you.”

When one of the officers instructs Sky to get out of the way,  she asks: “You gonna shoot me too, right? For filming, right?”

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