Dash camera footage of an officer-involved shooting of a suspect in Forth Worth (TX) this past summer has been released, and as usual, people are reading into the video what they want to see.
A police dashcam video appears to show a Texas officer shoot a black man as he’s walking away from the officer and not posing any immediate threat.
A lawyer for David Collie released a copy of the video showing the July encounter with a Fort Worth officer and a Tarrant County sheriff’s deputy. The officer and deputy were off-duty at the time and working a security detail together at an apartment complex, attorney Nate Washington said Wednesday.
He said Collie was shot in the back, leaving him paralyzed.
Police at the time were searching for two shirtless black men who they believed had committed a robbery near a gas station, Washington said. Authorities said in a news release they issued at the time that Collie pulled a box cutter from his pocket and pointed it at the officers.
Collie was charged with aggravated assault on a public servant but a grand jury declined to indict him.
Fort Worth police did not respond Wednesday to a request for comment on the incident.
Collie, 33, was walking from work to a friend’s apartment when the officers approached him in the patrol vehicle, Washington said. It was the Fort Worth officer who shot Collie, Washington said, and the video appears to show the officer firing his weapon about 10 seconds after exiting the vehicle and as Collie walked away.
Let’s go to the tape, shall we? There is no audio recording from the dash camera, but it captures the entire event, with the majority of the action occurring in the first minute of the video.
That’s the video.
Here’s our analysis of the relevant first minute.
Officers pull up behind David Collie as a possible armed robbery suspect. In the freeze-frame captured above about 17 seconds into the video, Mr. Collie has turned his head towards the marked police car. He knows he’s drawn the interest of the officers. He keeps walking anyway.
This is not a crime.
This is very stupid, and sets the stage for everything that follows.
Mr. Collie takes at least 10 steps from the time he noticed the marked police patrol pull up behind him before the officer from the passenger side of the car steps forward into view of the silent dash camera video at the 22-second mark.
The officer from the driver’s side of the vehicle enters the camera’s view at 26 seconds, his department issue pistol in his hand. It’s reasonable to assume that both officers have verbally called out to Mr. Collie numerous times at this point.
Collie turns the corner of the sidewalk and takes another 4 steps away from the officers.
The officer from the passenger side lights up Collie with his flashlight. The officer from the driver’s side of the car opens fire, firing two shots at the 29-second mark. He later apparently claimed he saw a silver metal object in Collie’s hand and thought it was a gun.
Collie immediately drops to the ground 30 seconds into the video and doesn’t move. The passenger-side officer drops back momentarily, clearly surprised by the gun shots.
By 46 seconds into the video (above) the officers are scanning and assessing the area, presumably both looking to see if there is a weapon (a silver box cutter that was in Collie’s hand was recovered) and to see if Collie represents a threat.
After scanning the area and determining that Mr. Collie no longer represents an active threat, the officers move in and check on his condition. Other officers begin arriving minutes later. The camera continues to roll until the 10:02 mark and the video ends. EMS does not arrive during this time, but officers are sitting with Mr. Collie as others block off the crime scene.
Mr. Collie made two very dangerous errors in judgement that contributed to the officer on the left viewing him as a threat.
He continued ignoring officer commands to stop, and he had an object in his hand that the officer mistook as a firearm.
Officers cannot wait for a suspect to point a weapon at them before they seek to respond. Action is much faster than reaction, a man with a gun at his side and raise and fire one or more shots at an officer before the officer can see and process the other man’s actions.
This was not what you I would call a “good shoot” where the officer clearly had to discharge his weapon in order to save a life or lives, but it appears to be a legally justifiable shooting all the same.
Mr. Collie refused to obey commands to stop, and had a weapon in his hand. The officer who fired mistook Collie’s boxcutter for a gun.
It’s not a happy outcome for anyone involved, but like the shootings of Michael Brown, Alton Sterling, Terence Crutcher and Keith Scott, it was Collie’s refusal to comply with lawful commands so that officers could rule him out as an armed robbery suspect that led to this confrontation.