CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The Charleston Police Department has released the body camera footage of an officer-involved shooting that resulted in the death of a man earlier this month.
The incident which happened on Jan. 11, 2023, was ruled self-defense by the Kanawha County Prosecutor’s Office, following a review of the police report and body camera video from the shooting.
Below is a video of the incident. WARNING: This footage may be disturbing to some viewers.
Chief James “Tyke” Hunt said there were verbal and physical signs indicating the man was inevitably going to “force the officers’ hands” from the start of the video.
“Our officers begin to communicate with him, he arms himself with the pipe or rebar early on,” Hunt said. “He does put it down so our officers … move over closer to that section for when the times comes a hands on arrest would be needed.”
As the video continues, Hunt talked about the different levels officers are trained to work through before administering lethal force. He said de-escalation starts with communication; however, if the person does not comply then officers are advised to first use less lethal measures.
With this incident, he said the terrain and other factors played an integral part in the actions taken by the officer to de-escalate the situation.
“The primary officer is the one that deployed the taser and then after being struck fired upon the individual,” Hunt said. “He fired six times, two rounds struck. You can hear how rapid those rounds were coming out. Our officer is actively being beaten upon the head with a piece of rebar pipe.”
He said in incidents such as this where officers have to use a weapon, they are trained to stop when the threat stops.
“It was a very rapid six-shot succession with two rounds striking and he goes down and then the force completely stops,” Hunt said. “They handcuffed him and then immediately began rendering aid.”
He said both officers are part of the hybrid unit that works closely with the CARE team which works to provide help and resources to individuals facing homeless, mental health issues or substance abuse disorders in the community.
Following the incident, both officers were placed on “Critical Incident Leave” as part of procedural measures. However, both have returned to work, after a “fitness for duty” evaluation.