There are officer-involved shooting stories we cover where the words alone simply cannot do the incident justice.
Dramatic video obtained exclusively by Channel 2 Action News shows a shootout between a deputy and a suspect in Troup County.
The shooting happened Monday afternoon as the deputy was performing a welfare check at the suspect’s home on Jackson Street. Officers said the man’s father had called in a report that his adult son was in the midst of a mental health episode.
Deputy Michael Hockett’s dash camera was running as he responded to the scene.
In the video, Hockett is heard yelling at the suspect, “Drop the gun now!”
Moments later he’s seen running away as the armed suspect chases him. Hockett jumps a fence and the suspect begins firing at him.
Hockett returns fire, hitting the suspect in the shoulder. Hockett was also hit in his forehead, elbow and waist by pellets from a shotgun blast during the shootout.
After being shot, the suspect, identified as Matthew Edmondson, returns to his home, causing an hours-long SWAT standoff involving several agencies. Hockett took off in his patrol car and drove to safety.
Hockett’s dash camera and body mic were active for the entire incident. Out of respect for your time, we’re going to skip ahead to 9:22 in the dash camera. Know that Deputy Hockett has already parked his patrol car, climbed over the gate, and has walked around the building in the background to what we presume is a second structure, where he can be heard knocking and calling “Hello.” Edmonson is going to show up driving a green Ford Ranger to the camera’s left.
Edmonson opens the gate, and then it sounds like he either beats on or kicks the deputy’s patrol car off camera.
He then pulls he truck through the gate, steps out, and draws a revolver from his coat pocket, then shoots the patrol car. Hockett yells in the background, hearing the shot, but not knowing where it came from.
Edmonson doesn’t hear Hockett (who is still some distance away beyond the building), and walks closer to fire a second shot. Hockett yells again. Edmonson still doesn’t seem to hear him.
An older woman (likely Edmonson’s mother) steps out of the passenger side of the Ranger. Edmonson reloads his craptastic Taurus Judge revolver, then closes and locks the gate as we hear Hockett report via his radio that shots have been fired at his location.
Edmonson forces him mom back into the truck, and pulls around the building. A few seconds later we hear Hockett yell “Sheriff’s Office!” and then an unintelligible scream. He then screams “put it down!” several times, then pleads “please, please!” There are scream of “no, no!” as Edmonson shoots Hockett, whom for whatever reason doesn’t return fire. The audio is chilling reminding me a great deal of the murder of another Georgia deputy in 1998, Kyle Dinkheller.
We then hear Hockett scream “no!” and then the sounds of him running. He appears (near the building) running for his life. Amazingly, despite the earlier shots fired at his vehicle and the fact Edmonson has already shot him, his gun is still holstered.
In what appears to be a dead panic, Hockett doesn’t seek cover, behind the building or the tree, and instead runs back to the gate and begins to climb over it. Edmonson can be seen coming around the building in pursuit. As Hockett gets over the top of the fence, he yells, “no more!” then retreats off camera behind his vehicle as Edmonson closes in. He then whispers softly, “please, please.”
Edmonson runs straight up to the gate, reaches over apparently completely unafraid of Hockett responding, and opens fire again.
Hockett finally draws his weapon and returns fire, hitting Edmonson.
Edmonson fires again, and then retreats. A demoralized Hockett is heard to say “I’m hit. Shots fired” as Edmonson runs back around the building.
Hockett then jumps in his car and back up. At first, I thought he was turning his patrol vehicle to block any attempt of Edmonson to escape.
Then he reports “I’m hit. I’m back in my car,” and starts driving. He reports to dispatch that he’s back in his car and that he’s left the scene, that he’s taken hits, and that he hit the suspect at least once.
And he keeps driving.
The next three minutes and 30 seconds of film (up until the moment the dash camera footage stops) are of Hockett fleeing the scene at a bizarrely leisurely pace.
His lights and siren are not on as you might expect them to be if he was trying to run to the closest EMS station for aid. Instead, the dash camera video ends as he turns into a convenience store parking lot, and he tells dispatch that he was trying to make sure that he wasn’t followed by the suspect.
I’m sure that Deputy Michael Hockett is a fine human being, and that he probably got into law enforcement because he wants to help people in need.
The fact remains that effective law enforcement officers must have a bit of an edge to them. You don’t want them over-aggressive or abusive, but they need to have the ability to fight not to defend just themselves, but the community they serve. If they can’t fight when they need to fight, they put their own lives, the lives of their fellow first responders, and the lives of the citizenry they serve at greater risk. This video suggests that Deputy Michael Hockett lacks that ability to finish the fight and remain on station that we need in law enforcement officers. It doesn’t make him a bad person. It simply means that he found out the hard way that he’s not well-suited for this line of work.
Fortunately, he found that out while suffering only minor injuries, thanks to a suspect who chose to arm himself with one of the most useless firearms know to man.