Police Officer Daniel Sanchez, who is seen standing to Mr. Moonesinghe’s left in a neighbor’s front yard, orders him to drop the gun and then immediately fires five rounds at him.
Mr. Moonesinghe staggers after three shots are heard, drops the gun and falls to the floor after another two shots are heard. “It wasn’t me,” he can be heard saying on the Ring footage, uttering a profanity after falling.
Raj Moonesinghe was described as a gentle giant and attentive uncle.
After viewing the footage, Raj Moonesinghe’s older brother called the shooting a murder.
“The video clearly shows that Raj never threatened the officers, he didn’t even know they were there,” said Johann Moonesinghe in a statement. He also said unreleased footage shows that his brother told a neighbor that someone was in the house and he was going to call police for help.
The Austin Police Department said it was investigating the shooting and that the information provided on Thursday was preliminary. It didn’t respond to the family’s allegations or a request for comment.
The APD Special Investigations Unit is conducting a criminal investigation in conjunction with the Travis County District Attorney’s Office, and an administrative investigation is being conducted by the APD Internal Affairs Unit, with oversight from the Office of Police Oversight.
Officer Sanchez was placed on administrative leave per department policy. He has been with APD for two years and nine months.
The Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas said their attorneys are representing Officer Sanchez and maintained that he acted in line with his training.
“We are representing the Austin Police Officer and believe it’s important to recognize that while this event is a tragedy, the officer followed his training in an effort to protect lives,” CLEAT said.
Immediately following the shooting, the footage shows three officers approach the injured Mr. Moonesinghe, who is on the ground. One officer stands at the entrance of the home and the other two try to get Mr. Moonesinghe to roll over, but he is unresponsive.
The officers then began lifesaving measures, said the Austin Police Department. No one else was discovered inside the house.
Mr. Moonesinghe was taken to a local hospital by paramedics, where he died from his injuries, police said.
Police were responding to a 911 call reporting a man was walking around outside a home with what the caller believed was a rifle and pointing it down the street. The man appeared to be scared of something inside his home, the 911 caller said, and described him as paranoid, possibly suffering from mental-health issues.
It couldn’t be determined if Officer Sanchez was told what the 911 caller had said before arriving on the scene.
Johann Moonesinghe accused the Austin Police Department of trying to cover up what happened, saying the Ring camera video from Raj Moonesinghe’s house that was released didn’t include an interaction Raj Moonesinghe had with a neighbor one minute before the incident. Johann Moonesinghe said that in the unreleased footage, his brother told the neighbor there was someone in his house and yelled, “I’m calling the police, get out of my house.”
“It is beyond comprehension that the police acted this way,” Johann Moonesinghe said. “They shot first and asked questions later.”
Raj Moonesinghe’s family described him as a gentle giant and attentive uncle who helped anyone in need and was devoted to his goldendoodle. He and Johann Moonesinghe were co-founders of inKind, an Austin-based restaurant investment company.
Write to Adolfo Flores at firstname.lastname@example.org