San Bernardino County Sheriff

Surveillance video of shooting reportedly missing seconds of footage

By Paola Baker
Staff Writer
Posted Jun. 2, 2016 at 6:22 PM

VICTORVILLE — Attorneys representing the family of a Barstow man fatally shot by San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department deputies last fall claim witnesses were intimidated and harassed by investigators.

Attorneys Sharon Brunner and Jim Terrell held a press conference Thursday in which witness statements to the incident were presented from three people who allegedly witnessed the altercation involving Nathaniel Pickett Jr., who was killed Nov. 19 near the El Rancho Motel in Barstow.

At Thursday’s press conference, Brunner and Terrell claimed they recently became aware that a previously presented surveillance video of the incident was missing four to five seconds of footage.

This claim was bolstered by witness James Kennedy, who lived at the motel when the altercation between Pickett and the deputies occurred.

“I don’t believe the video shows exactly what happened,” Kennedy said. “I was there, and that’s not what happened. There’s a few seconds missing.”

The Barstow Police Department investigated the deputy-involved shooting, “collecting security camera footage and belt recordings as evidence,” sheriff’s officials said following the May 17 press conference.

“The evidence collected was submitted with the completed report to the District Attorney for review,” the department said.

DA spokesman Chris Lee said two weeks ago that the case was pending review.

The attorneys also claimed witnesses to the incident had been subjected to harassment, threats and intimidation by Sheriff’s Department officials during the investigation.

Authorities previously said Pickett was seen hopping a fence and was generally uncooperative before he ran as a deputy attempted to handcuff him. A fight ensued and the deputy was hurt during the course of the scuffle that led to Pickett’s death.

The 45-second surveillance video, revealed during a press conference May 17, shows Pickett darting away from the deputy through a corridor, then tripping and sliding to a stop. He appears to scoot away from the deputy, who attempts to subdue and handcuff him.

The attorneys showed a video during Thursday’s conference from witness Amy Snyder, who was staying at a room in the motel directly across from where the incident occurred.

“I heard a rustling sound, then I heard (the deputy) say ‘stop resisting,’” Snyder said. “But he wasn’t resisting, fighting back or anything.”

Snyder claimed she then heard the deputy threaten to stun Pickett with a taser gun before shooting him “within seconds.”

“Everybody was telling the (deputy) that he lived there, he’s not stable, just leave him alone and let him go home, and he just kept nagging at him for no reason at all,” Snyder said. “He didn’t have to shoot him a second time. It was instantaneous.”

Private investigator Clifton Harris said Snyder was supposed to be present at the conference, but canceled at the last minute due to a “family emergency.”

“It’s my belief that she was afraid and made up a story,” Harris said. “I’m sure that was just a ruse to get away from coming here today.”

He claimed Snyder was told by investigators during her initial interview after the incident that “it would be a good idea for her to leave town.”

“Since that time, she has indicated that she has picked up two cases where she feels she didn’t do anything wrong,” Harris said.

Terrell claimed witnesses were also intimidated into leaving shortly after the incident occurred.

“We’re finding out that these witnesses were pretty much told if they didn’t meet the theory of what the police were doing, they were not mentioned in the reports or told to get off the property,” Terrell said.

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