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The moment the 33-year-old of Sri Lankan descent was shot by police was captured in body camera and home security footage released by the Austin Police Department earlier this month. The clip shows an officer firing upon Moonesinghe, who was carrying a rifle while inspecting his home’s surroundings as he thought there was an intruder in his house. Just minutes before police arrived, Moonesinghe had mentioned to a neighbor he was going to call 911 due to the perceived intruder, reported the Wall Street Journal. At the time he was surveying the home’s perimeter, his neighbor’s private security guard was watching from across the street.
The guard called the police to report what Moonesinghe was doing, telling a dispatcher that he “almost seems to be scared of something inside his house. He’s pointing the rifle at the interior of his home.”
Soon after, Moonesinghe fired two shots into his own living room from his porch. When the police arrived minutes later, Officer Daniel Sanchez immediately fired at Moonesinghe while yelling out, “Drop the gun.”
As he lay on the ground after being shot, Moonesinghe said: “It wasn’t me.”
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Moonesinghe was rushed to the hospital, where he later died from four bullet wounds. The three responding officers did not find an intruder in the victim’s home, noting that they could see into the house since the front door was open.
In a statement, the man’s older brother Johann described him as a loving son who took care of their parents financially. He went on to say that his family believes the APD is trying to cover up what happened as the security footage released was an edited version that intentionally removed the interaction Moonesinghe had with his neighbor.
“Police knew he was the homeowner concerned with the potential intruder and they shot first and asked questions later,” Johann was quoted as saying.
Sanchez, who was with Officers Stephen Markert and Luis Brito on the scene, is on administrative leave as the incident remains under investigation.
A criminal investigation is being conducted by the Special Investigations Unit and the District Attorney’s office, while a separate administrative investigation is being conducted by the department’s Internal Affairs Unit. Moonesinghe and Johann ran a financial technology app that provides upfront financing to restaurants called InKind. With an annual revenue of $48 million, the company is set for growth, with plans of increasing its number of employees next year. The company’s future currently hangs in the balance following the fatal shooting.
The foundation, which so far has raised $27,000, plans to invest in efforts pushing for non-lethal police tools and implicit bias training, as well as setting up billboards in a nationwide campaign to warn tech startups against moving to Austin.
MainStreet CEO Doug Ludlow, who had known Moonesinghe since he was a child, also committed $1 million to the initiative.
An online petition seeking to have Officer Sanchez indicted reads: “Officer Sanchez’s action killed our friend, and he must be held accountable.”
“Raj was not afforded even a millisecond to comply with orders to put down his rifle. He was defending his home, did not hurt anyone, and, as his family/friends, we know he would have put down the gun if given the chance.”