Los Angeles/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on April 02, 2024
UPDATE: New Video Raises Doubts About San Bernardino Teen's Role in Fatal 2022 ShootoutSource: Google Street View

A distressing chapter in a tragic tale unfolded further as new video footage has emerged, igniting questions about the fatal shootout in September 2022 involving San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department deputies and 15-year-old Savannah Graziano, who was believed to have been trying to surrender when she was fatally shot. The video obtained by the Southern California News Group appears to contradict initial reports that the teenager may have been an active participant in the shootout. Savannah was caught in the crossfire during a police chase that ended her life along with her father's, fugitive Anthony Graziano.

After an Amber Alert was issued following the abduction of Savannah by her father on September 26, 2022, the white truck they were in was located in Barstow. According to KTLA, the pursuit led to a dangerous 45-mile chase, with Anthony Graziano reportedly shooting at deputies with his daughter in the vehicle. The pursuit came to a deadly end on the I-15 Freeway near Main Street in Hesperia, where Savannah stepped out and appeared to be walking toward the deputies before being struck by their gunfire.

Footage from the helicopter of the California Highway Patrol over the scene captured the moment when a deputy realized the approaching figure was Savannah and not the armed suspect. "Stop! Stop shooting her!" the deputy yells. "He’s in the car! Stop! She’s okay!" KTLA reports that seconds later Savannah was hit by shots as she seemingly attempted to surrender.

At the time of the incident, Sheriff Shannon Dicus indicated that Savannah had been wearing tactical gear and that she had exchanged gunfire with deputies during the chase, a claim which is still under investigation. "Preliminarily, again, there may be some indications that the passenger of the vehicle, which we believe is Savannah, may have been involved in some of the fire exchanged," Sheriff Dicus had said in statements from 2022. However, in light of the new footage, the California Department of Justice is handling the probe into her death with the outcomes yet to be fully disclosed.

As revealed by CBS News Los Angeles, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department stated they would consult with the California Department of Justice to ascertain if the shooting met the stipulations of Assembly Bill 1506, which mandates the agency's involvement in shootings that result in the death of an unarmed civilian. The California DOJ's role became primary to thoroughly unravel the circumstances of Savannah Graziano's tragic death.

Meanwhile, relatives like Savannah's grandmother are calling for more clarity on how San Bernardino County trains its deputies, suggesting that the family remains in search of answers in this case that has left them grappling with loss and fraught with questions. The public awaits the final report from the California Department of Justice.