Christian Hall, a 19-year-old Chinese American, was standing still, with his hands raised and his gun pointed up, facing at least 10 Pennsylvania State Police officers taking cover behind a vehicle, when they fatally shot him in December 2020, according to unedited footage obtained by attorneys representing his family.
The new footage, which was first broadcast by NBC and Spotlight PA, contradicts previous statements made by the Monroe County Office of the District Attorney that “Hall not only continued to advance with the gun, he actually raised it outwards and upwards,” describing the scenario as “suicide by cop.” The DA’s office had concluded in March the use of deadly force was justified.
While state police and the DA’s office claimed Hall was advancing and pointing the gun in the direction of police, the unredacted video “definitively establishes that both stories are false,” and that “Christian was shot in direct response to an order that ‘If he doesn’t drop it, take him,’” Devon Jacob, an attorney who represents Hall’s family, said in a statement.
Monroe County Office of the District Attorney’s redacted video
The footage has renewed calls from Hall’s loved ones and supporters for an outside investigation into his death, which BuzzFeed News reported on in May.
“He should be here today,” Hall’s aunt Nicole Henriquez said to BuzzFeed News on Thursday. “And I just feel there was a complete disregard, because of who he was racially.” Hall is Chinese American.
Earlier this month in East Stroudsburg, Daniel Koltun, who is white, fired a pellet gun at officers, who did not shoot back, Pocono Record reported.
On Dec. 30, 2020, Hall had called 911 anonymously, reporting “a possible suicider” and stood at the ledge of a highway overpass near Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, with a gun, where troopers tried to de-escalate the situation over about an hour and a half — asking him to put the gun down, assuring him he would not be harmed — before shooting him. They later realized the weapon he was holding was an airsoft pellet gun.
“His hands were up, and instead of being greeted with help, he was murdered,” said state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, a member of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus.
He and other lawmakers are demanding Hall’s case be turned over to another agency, saying the Monroe County district attorney’s office failed to properly investigate it.
“This case absolutely needs an independent, unbiased investigation run by an agency not directly related to the case,” said state Rep. Maureen Madden, whose district includes Monroe County. “Whether that’s Attorney General Josh Shapiro or even the FBI, the people involved deserve facts.”
“The refusal of the Monroe County DA’s office to refer the case, coupled with the release of the video that authorities previously blurred, is troubling and presents a real conflict,” the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus said in a statement Friday.
The Hall family, also represented by civil rights attorney Ben Crump, has been demanding the release of raw camera footage and an investigation by the Pennsylvania State Attorney General for months, saying the DA works too closely with police to conduct an unbiased review of the case. The video’s release comes nearly a year after Hall’s death. The family received it from the Pennsylvania State Police through a subpoena their lawyers had filed.
Hall’s shooting became entwined in the movement against anti-Asian racism this year, drawing protests in New York and Pennsylvania, as people rallied against the death of this “Chinese kid in white Stroudsburg” as community activist Karlin Chan put it.
Hall was adopted from China into a multiracial family — his mother is Filipino and his father is Black and Latino. Throughout his childhood in the US, he passed through systems that failed to help him. The justice system cycled him through juvenile detention for years after he accidentally started a fire playing with matches when he was 10 years old, damaging a room in a building but not injuring anyone. Hall had mental health issues at a young age, including depression and reactive attachment disorder, which worsened during that period. Due to a shortage of mental health services in the area, he was waitlisted for a counselor toward the end of his life.
Hall’s supporters are planning a rally for Nov. 27 in Stroudsburg.
The Pennsylvania State Police said in a statement, “Any loss of life is tragic. The trauma associated with a loss of life affects everyone involved.”
The Monroe County district attorney’s office did not respond to a request for comment.