AUSTIN (KXAN) – On Thursday, the Austin Police Department released body-worn and Ring camera footage from the Nov. 15 south Austin police shooting of 33-year-old Rajan David Moonesinghe.
APD said at about 12:28 a.m., 911 received a call about a man with a gun in the 2200 block of S. Third St. The caller said the man seemed to be scared of something inside his own home before pointing his rifle inside and firing.
Austin Police released a Ring camera video that shows Moonesinghe outside his home with his rifle, pointing it at something off-camera and saying, “Are you sure you want this?” before firing the weapon. In the background you see an officer pull up.
According to police, when the officer arrived, he gave Moonesinghe a verbal command to drop the gun before firing his department-approved firearm at Moonesinghe. APD said Moonesinghe was struck and fell to the ground, and the rifle was on the ground at his side.
In the video, you can hear police saying to drop the gun a split second before opening fire and shooting Moonesinghe. In a video shown from the perspective of the officer, just seconds after the officer exits the vehicle, you can hear the sound of gunfire.
After not receiving a response from Moonesinghe after he was shot, officers began life-saving measures, according to police. Within a minute of the shooting, officers were next to him and one could be heard saying “Roll over on your stomach, buddy, so we can help you.” The video police released doesn’t show the life-saving measures.
Austin-Travis County EMS officials arrived at the scene nine minutes later, and Moonesinghe was taken to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
WARNING: The following videos contain graphic content viewers may find disturbing.
DISCLAIMER: Police body-worn camera footage has been edited for time and sensitivity.
The full videos are available on the APD YouTube page.
The officer who fired his gun, Officer Daniel Sanchez, was placed on administrative leave, APD said. He has two years and nine months of service with APD.
Chris Harris with the Austin Justice Coalition said the video raises a lot of questions.
“Obviously about whom the victim was talking to and engaging with his gun prior to when APD arrived,” said Harris. “Secondly, about whether it was necessary for the officer to immediately open fire with basically no warning or announcement.”
Harris said the video will help in the investigation.
“We deserve access to that footage, particularly when that footage shows officers making life or death decisions,” said Harris.
Man’s brother releases statement
Moonesinghe’s older brother, Johann, released a statement to KXAN Thursday. Read the full statement below:
“Yesterday, I had the opportunity to view the police footage and security footage of the last minutes of my brother’s life. As difficult as that was, it was an incredibly important step towards finding out the truth of the events leading up to his murder by police on November 15, 2022. The video clearly shows that Raj never threatened the officers, he didn’t even know they were there. I’d encourage everyone to watch the videos being released today to make their own judgments. Thank goodness Raj had his Ring security camera on his porch because, without it, the police would have continued to lie about what happened that night.
“After watching the video, it is evident that the officer who shot Raj did this without identifying himself, without thinking, and before giving my brother a chance to explain who he was and why he was outside. Instead, he arrived without flashing lights or sirens, pulled out an assault rifle, took a hidden defensive position behind a fence 25 yards away, and killed my brother. He began firing before finishing his command to ‘drop your gun’ and continued to fire once Raj had dropped his gun and put his hands up and continued to fire once Raj had dropped his gun and put his hands up. It’s clear from the security footage that Raj didn’t even know the police officer was there. His last words as he lay on the ground were ‘it wasn’t me.’
“Instead of getting justice for Raj, the Austin Police Department continues with its attempts to cover up what happened. The security footage they released today is an edited version that intentionally removes the interaction that Raj had with his neighbor one minute beforehand where he told her there was someone in his house and yelled into his home, ‘I’m calling the police, get out of my house.’
“It is beyond comprehension that the police acted this way. The police knew he was the homeowner concerned with a potential intruder. They shot first and asked questions later. As an Austinite myself, I’m outraged to think that these are the people tasked with protecting our community.
“Raj was a loving son who took care of our parents financially and the co-founder of a very successful tech company which we moved to Austin in 2018. We ask the City and the District Attorney to do their jobs and hold the officer accountable. Otherwise, these senseless shootings will continue and more innocent people will be shot and killed by Austin police officers.”
APD said after the shooting, officers could see inside the home through the open front door. An officer gave verbal commands to check for anyone who may have been hurt or inside the home. Officers also checked the home but didn’t find anyone inside.
The Moonesinghe family released a statement to KXAN on Nov. 23, writing it would “push” APD for all information related to Moonesinghe’s death.