Caught on tape: police shootings through the years

The news yesterday that a South Carolina deputy will face murder charges for shooting and killing an unarmed, fleeing man made some people wonder: What if it hadn’t been caught on tape?

The vast majority of shootings aren’t recorded, obviously. But since 2006, multiple officers have faced charges after their shootings were recorded by witnesses or dashboard cameras. Some of those cases are below. Other shootings caught on tape illustrate how quickly a situation can go from mundane to deadly, even if the officer doesn’t intend to shoot.

WARNING: These videos are graphic.

Airman shot by California deputy (2006)

Elio Carrion was an Air Force airman home from Iraq and riding in the passenger’s seat of a friend’s car that led police on a high-speed chase in 2009. The driver was pulled over by San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputy Ivory Webb, who had Carrion on the ground at gunpoint. The video showed Webb first telling Carrion to stay on the ground, then telling Carrion to get up. Carrion replied, “I’m going to get up,” but when he started to get up, Webb shot him three times.

Webb was charged with attempted voluntary manslaughter and assault with a firearm, but a jury acquitted him. The county settled a lawsuit by Carrion for $1.5 million.

BART police shooting of Oscar Grant (2009)

Officers with the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit Police Department were dispatched to a call of a fight on one of the BART trains. While detaining and handcuffing Oscar Grant, officer Johannes Mehserle stood up, allegedly to shock him with a Taser. But he pulled out his handgun instead and fired once, killing Grant.

A jury found Mehserle guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

Ohio officer shoots unarmed motorcyclist (2009)

Michael McCloskey, Jr., was unarmed when Ottawa Hills, Ohio officer Thomas White pulled him over. While McCloskey was sitting calmly on his motorcycle (at the 3:30 mark in the video), White shot him in the back, leaving him paralyzed. White said he thought McCloskey was going for a gun.

The officer was convicted of felonious assault with a gun, but the conviction was overturned last year because of improper jury instructions.

South Carolina deputy shoots man reaching for his license (2014)

This was one of two high-profile shootings in South Carolina captured on video last year. Trooper Sean Groubert stopped Levar Jones in a gas station lot because the man wasn’t wearing a seat belt. Groubert asked Jones for his ID, and Jones patted himself and reached into his car to get it. But Groubert thought Jones was reaching for a gun and shot him.

Groubert was arrested and charged with assault and battery. He’s awaiting trial.

Officers shoot BB-gun wielding teen based on bad 911 call (2014)

John Crawford III, 22, was shopping at an Ohio Walmart and carrying a toy he’d taken off the store shelf: a BB gun that looked like a rifle. A shopper called 911 on him, saying Crawford was waving a gun around and pointing it at people. Store surveillance captured Crawford on the phone, BB gun at his side, when police arrived. Beavercreek police officers, based on the faulty information in the 911 call, shot him almost immediately.

The caller later backtracked from his statements to 911 dispatchers, saying Crawford wasn’t a threat.

Body camera captures Dallas police shooting mentally ill man wielding a screwdriver (2014)

Last year’s fatal shooting of a mentally ill man by a Dallas police officer was one of the first high-profile shootings to be captured on an officer’s body camera. Jason Harrison’s mom had called police for help hospitalizing her mentally ill son, Jason Harrison, 38. When two officers arrived, Harrison was holding a screwdriver and apparently lunged at the officers, prompting both officers to shoot and kill him.

Deputy sobs after shooting 70-year-old man (2014)

This shooting in York County, S.C., shows how officers can easily – and understandably –  perceive a harmless object to be a weapon, and how officers have trouble dealing with those decisions.

Deputy Terrance Knox pulled over 70-year-old Vietnam veteran Bobby Canipe for expired tags. Canipe, who apparently couldn’t hear the deputy yelling for his attention, reached into the truck and pulled out a long object, which Knox believed to be a rifle or shotgun. Knox yelled and fired multiple times, hitting Canipe in the hip. When he ran up to the wounded man, Knox realized the he had pulled out a cane, not a gun.

Later, at the 4:30 mark in the video, you can hear Knox sobbing and a fellow deputy consoling him.

 

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