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US: California cops fatally shot kidnapped teen while she was surrendering, chilling video emerges

Savannah Graziano, 15, was reportedly kidnapped by her father Anthony Graziano, 45, after the latter killed his estranged wife and Savannah's mother a day ago in 2022. The newly released video shows other deputies opening fire on her while she was following instructions and surrendering.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Los Angeles Published on: April 03, 2024 19:26 IST
US, California, teenage girl shot by police
Image Source : X Savannah Graziano, 15, who was fatally shot by California police in 2022.

Los Angeles: In a shocking and tragic incident, a teenage girl reportedly abducted by her father was shot dead by deputies on a Southern California highway as she was following another deputy's instructions and appeared to be surrendering, according to a chilling video recently released online. The victim was identified as Savannah Graziano, 15, and she was shot by the San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies amid a hail of gunfire on Sept. 27, 2022.

Savannah was allegedly kidnapped by her father Anthony Graziano, 45, who was also shot dead by the cops. The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department released the audio and video clips, including a heavily produced and narrated 15-minute video, on Friday in response to public records requests made by The Associated Press and other US media outlets. The footage was recorded by a sheriff's helicopter and witness dashboard cameras.

Ahead of the fatal shooting, the deputies pursued Graziano’s pickup truck for some 70 miles (110 kilometres), including along Highway 15. A helicopter crew following the chase reported shots fired from the driver’s side. Other shots were fired from the passenger’s side, according to a deputy and a passing motorist. The truck came to a halt on the desert interstate east of Los Angeles in Hesperia, where Anthony had shot and killed her mother, his estranged wife, a day ago.

Watch the video: 

The video shows that Savannah Graziano was just steps from safety when she was killed. A deputy, taking cover behind a sheriff’s SUV, repeatedly shouts to her, “Passenger, get out!” and “Come to me, come to me!” The teenager got out of the vehicle wearing tactical gear and a helmet, and ran toward the deputy, briefly crouching to the ground as he continued to give her commands.

Tragically, as she rose and started towards the deputy, other deputies from a higher elevation opened fire. "Stop! Stop shooting her! He’s in the car! Stop!” the earlier deputy screamed. A deputy in the helicopter can be heard saying “Oh, no” over the radio after the teen was shot.

For months, officials would not say whether it was her father or the deputies who killed Savannah Graziano. In the new video, the narrator says the Grazianos "were struck by deputy rounds and died of their injuries". The agency has not released autopsy reports for the teenager, her father or her mother, Tracy Martinez, and it has not named the deputies involved.

The police department said four sheriff’s department vehicles were struck by gunfire during the pursuit, and deputies seized multiple firearms and hundreds of rounds from the pickup truck, as well as flash bangs, smoke grenades, body armour and tactical helmets. Savannah Graziano was not armed when she was shot, it was confirmed.

Deceased teen witnessed her mother's death

The shooting is now under investigation by the state Department of Justice, as state law requires the department to review any officer-involved shooting resulting in the death of an unarmed civilian. According to authorities, Savannah witnessed her mother’s slaying from the backseat of Anthony’s pickup truck but did not move to help her.

Her father jumped out with a handgun and fired several times at Tracy Martinez near an elementary school during morning drop-off, forcing students and parents to dive for cover. Anthony also shot at a father and child near the school. He had moved out of the family’s home a month or two before the killing, as the couple went through a divorce, according to police.

Anthony Graziano and his daughter had been living out of his pickup truck and hotels for weeks before the violence, police said at the time. There were no reports of domestic violence or child abuse. An Amber Alert for Savannah Graziano was issued after her mother was killed, though authorities later questioned whether she went with her father willingly. 

(with inputs from AP)

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