July 30, 2018 06:38 PM
Police body camera footage shows the minutes before Officers Ryan Kelly and Justin Schmidt shot and killed Thurman Blevins on June 23.
The videos show Officers Kelly and Schmidt spotted Blevins sitting on the curb and then jumped from their cruiser with guns drawn, shouting at him to put his hands up.
“When the gun is visible, that changes the whole dynamic of the encounter,” said Kyle Loven, who retired from the FBI after spending 22 years with the agency.
Loven is now a member of the management team at Computer Forensic Services.
He examined the videos with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.
The body camera footage shows Kelly and Schmidt pull up next to Blevins after saying he matched the description given in the 911 call. The videos show a gun is visible in Blevins' waistband.
“The gun in the waistband would have caused the officers to believe this is a very perilous situation,” Loven said. “They jumped out of the vehicle in a very aggressive fashion. Law enforcement is taught to be very aggressive when weapons are in play because they want to control the situation immediately.”
The videos capture officers commanding Blevins to put the gun down and put his hands up. About 20 seconds into the chase, Blevins drops a bottle of liquor he’s carrying.
“When they pulled up on him, they saw the weapon immediately," Loven said. "When he didn't comply, the number one thing the officers were looking at were the hand movements, where are the hands of this individual? When the bottle goes down, Mr. Blevins has two hands free. That would ratchet up an already perilous situation to where the officers have to worry about two hands free moving freely with a weapon clearly in play.”
Blevins asks officers not to shoot him at least twice. 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS asked Loven how officers are trained to consider those pleas during a pursuit.
“My guess is that the officers were focused on his actions,” Loven said. “What a subject is saying, if his actions are inconsistent with his words, his actions are going to take precedence from a law enforcement standpoint.”
The chase continued to the alley.
“Perhaps [Blevins] wanted to comply but wasn't thinking straight,” Loven said.
The National Center for Audio and Video Forensics, based in California, stabilized the videos at the request of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
Loven said it’s clear Blevins is holding a gun.
“Once that weapon is out and pointed at officers, that is clearly a critical situation where deadly force must be used,” Loven said
Officers fired their weapons 14 times, Blevins was shot four times, according to County Attorney Mike Freeman.
“When it comes to deadly force, you're taught to neutralize the threat and in most situations it's seldom one shot,” said Loven. “Just an extremely tragic situation.”
Updated: July 30, 2018 06:38 PM
Created: July 30, 2018 05:48 PM
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