A federal judge released courtroom surveillance footage Monday of a gang member defendant allegedly attacking a witness with a pen at his 2014 trial for racketeering before he was shot dead by a U.S. Marshal.
The video — which blurs out the identities of the judge, witnesses, and officers in the Utah courtroom — shows the moment 25-year-old Tongan Crips gang member Siale Angilau stood up, grabbed a pen, and lunged toward the witness stand.
The witness, who was another gang member, managed to avoid Angilau’s attack by moving to the corner of the courtroom and was unharmed.
A deputy U.S. Marshal, identified as “Jane Doe” in court documents, then took out her gun and fired four shots in Angilau’s direction.
“Drop the pen, drop the pen out of your hand,” a fellow officer out of the camera’s view could be heard yelling at the defendant.
U.S. District Judge John Dowdell announced that he made the video public after dismissing a lawsuit from Angilau’s family claiming that the officer used excessive force. The family had been allowed to see the video but not distribute it.
“The video completely contradicts the plaintiffs’ argument that Angilau stopped posing a danger within less than one second of launching himself over the witness stand while making a stabbing motion with a pen in his hand,” Dowdell wrote in a statement obtained by Deseret News.
“Angilau was in custody, but he essentially had escaped custodial control for those seconds during which he was executing his plan to assault the witnesses,” Dowdell added. “His attack was stopped by the shots that Jane Doe rapidly fired, in less than one and one-half seconds.”
An FBI investigation also found that “Jane Doe’s” use of force was justified under federal law.
An attorney for the family said that his clients are glad that the video has been released to the public, but they have not yet decided whether they want to appeal the judge’s decision to dismiss their lawsuit.