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“Officer down:” Police release bodycam of a firefight with 15-year-old mass shooting suspect

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Kristen Johnson, Anna Johnson, Colleen Hammond

The News & Observer (Raleigh)

(TNS)

The city of Raleigh released a small portion of police officers’ body camera video Thursday showing the confrontation between police and the suspect in the mass shooting in the Hedingham neighborhood in October.

The footage shows officers surrounding a barn-like garage building in the woods around 6:42 p.m. and an officer being shot during the standoff Oct. 13, hours after six people were shot in the neighborhood and along a nearby trail.

The barrage of gunfire is followed by silence from the building as the injured officer, Casey Clark, is pulled to safety and his fellow officers apply tourniquets to his right knee. The officer is alert and talking and at one point says his injury may have been caused by a ricochet bullet.

The 12-minute video comes from hundreds of hours of officers’ body camera footage, a police spokesperson said. The recordings do not show the 15-year-old suspect in the shootings or his arrest just before 10 p.m.

The videos also do not show whether the suspect shot himself or was shot by the officers’ gunfire.

The standoff lasted about three hours, and officers fired at least 23 rounds of shots after the suspect fired multiple shots from inside the building. The suspect was hospitalized for his injuries.

Officers also seized weapons the juvenile was carrying, including a handgun, several types of ammunition, and a large hunting knife, according to findings in a Five-Day report released by city officials Oct. 20.

Petitioned for release of videos

On Oct. 24, the Raleigh Police Department petitioned to release recordings of the incident, which state law requires before such information can be made public. The request was granted on Nov. 10 after a hearing in Wake County Superior Court

The Police Department has not petitioned for the release of any other video, said spokesperson Lt. Jason Borneo.

“Other footage is part of the ongoing criminal investigation,” he said in an email to The News & Observer on Thursday.

The exact number of shots fired is part of the information, and Borneo said he was unable to confirm the current location of the 15-year-old suspect.

Below are highlights from video footage released from the body cameras of Sgt. K.M Smithey, Officer D.M. Garner and Clark. As of Thursday, Smithey and Garner remain on administrative paid leave, which is standard procedure after shootings involving officers, and Clark is recovering from his injuries, according to the Police Department.

‘Come out with your hands up’

The video titled BWC 1 is just over 5 1/2 minutes long and shows the perspective of one Raleigh police officer at the location of the standoff on McConnell Oliver Drive.

The video shows Clark dropping to the ground after being shot, officers returning fire and the officer taking cover behind a tree.

An officer shouts for the suspect to “come out with your hands up,” but the suspect does not reveal himself.

Radio traffic in the video says Emergency Medical Services is on the way.

The video ends without showing an arrest.

‘Officer down’

The second video, titled BWC 2, comes from the camera worn by Clark, who was shot in the knee. About 10 shots can be heard in the first seconds of the 4 1/2-minute video, and officers shout “Cover! Cover!” and “Officer shot!”

Clark says he is nauseous and it’s “just my knee.”

“It might have been a ricochet ‘cause it didn’t feel that big,” he says. “I’m just chillin’.”

Clark was standing about 15 feet away at a 45-degree angle from the building when he was shot and said “it looks like it was coming at me.”

The video ends with him walking with another officer’s help.

‘We do not know where the suspect is’

The third video, BWC 3, runs for 5 minutes and 13 seconds and is blurred due to a technical problem the Police Department was unaware of at the time of the incident, according to the city.

The footage shows the perspective of an officer carrying an automatic gun and climbing over a fence surrounding multiple buildings. After several seconds, gunshots ring out and Clark, standing in front of the officer, falls to the ground.

After a moment of a gunfire exchange, someone yells, “Where are those shots coming from?” and asks “Where was he hit?”

The officer wearing the body camera is speaking to other officers and giving directions to “take cover.”

No additional gunshots are heard on the video after the initial barrage and toward the end, the officer wearing the camera announces on his radio, “be advised, we do not know where the suspect is. He was in a barn, behind the barn, or defense line, no direction to travel at this point.”

The video ends with another officer asking if he can wear the helmet of another officer for protection.

What happened in shooting

The five people killed in the fatal shooting were Mary Marshall, 34; Nicole Connors, 52, and her dog, Sami; Susan Karnatz, 49; James Thompson, 16; and Raleigh officer Gabriel Torres, 29.

In addition to Clark, Marcille “Lynn” Gardner, 60, was also injured in the shooting. She has been recovering in the hospital and is expected to be released in December, according to her fundraiser page.

In the aftermath of the shooting, Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said she is planning to prosecute Austin Thompson as an adult. Her office has already begun the process of elevating the charges from juvenile to superior court.

However, this process takes time, and Freeman has repeatedly told The N&O she cannot comment while the case is still in juvenile court.

This process has been delayed because Thompson was hospitalized with at least one apparent gunshot wound when apprehended. While a petition and subsequent hearing to elevate charges to superior court usually occurs within 15 days of an incident, Freeman said in October that Thompson’s condition delayed this process.

Thompson’s condition remains unknown.

©2022 Raleigh News & Observer. Visit newsobserver.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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