The cellphone video drew outrage from the moment it surfaced. The footage showed deputies shooting a man as he walked away from them and continuing to fire at him, 33 rounds in all, as he crawled on the concrete.
As protests grew over the shooting, the communications staff within the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department advocated for breaking protocol by releasing a new video and image; these showed the man, Nicholas Robertson, holding a gun when he was shot on Dec. 12, 2015.
The move appeared to work: Protests died down once the new material came out. A leading activist backed away from calling the killing an “execution,” and the media gave ample coverage of the department’s narrative that Robertson was a persistent threat, having shot into the air before deputies arrived.