Texas’ Fort Worth Police Department on Thursday released body camera footage showing the officer-involved shooting in which 20-year-old JaQuavion Slaton was killed while sitting inside a white pickup truck earlier this month, ONA reports citing Sputniknews.
Local media reports indicate that the deadly encounter unfolded on June 9 after officers responded to a disturbance call that had involved an individual with a warrant out for his arrest. A search of the scene later determined that Slaton, who was the wanted person, had jumped into a nearby vehicle with his 17-year-old cousin Jevon Monroe.
It was when a marked police car approached the vehicle and attempted to conduct a traffic stop that both Slaton and Monroe jumped out, initiating a foot chase through various backyards in the Stop Six area. The third individual that was in the vehicle stayed put and spoke with officers.
Footage released by the police department includes recordings in which Slaton and Monroe are seen running through the neighborhood and jumping fences as officers attempt to keep pace. A slowed down portion of the video appears to show Slaton running with a firearm in his hand.
In one of the clips released to the public, officers are heard questioning Monroe on the whereabouts of Slaton as he’s being handcuffed. The edited video later jumps to the scene in which officers are confronting Slaton, who’s sitting inside a nearby truck.
Bodycam footage shows more than six officers yelling commands at Slaton as they point their respective department-issued firearms in his direction, ultimately firing multiple bullets into the vehicle.
The Tarrant County Medical Examiner ruled Slaton’s death a homicide after it was determined that he had died from multiple gunshot wounds to his chest and head. Citing the examiner’s report, local news station WFAA reported that Slaton had a “loose contact entry gunshot wound of the right temporal head” that was deemed self-inflicted. Officials have not yet been able to conclude if that wound was intentional or accidental.
Fort Worth Interim Police Chief Ed Kraus said at a Thursday press conference that officers involved in the shooting were “in fear for their lives” after they said Slaton appeared to make an “overt action,” which was spotted after an officer managed to break one of the truck’s windows.
Monroe told WFAA that he believes Slaton was attempting to put his hands up when officers deployed their guns.
Kraus told reporters that he hopes the video release “shows that [the department is] trying to be more transparent” and that the force “will take a step toward the community to meet them halfway or more than halfway to try to build the trust that we so desperately need to try to work together."
Community leaders have expressed outrage over the shooting. Rev. Kyev Tatum, who was part of a community group that helped to draft a new use of force policy for the department, told the local CBS station that the actions exhibited by officers were “ruthless.”
According to Tatum, officers failed to abide by the new guidelines when they decided to discharge their firearms instead of trying to use time and distance to get Slaton to simply turn himself over to the authorities.
“Instead of them following the training that we went through together, instead of following the general orders that we wrote together, they decided to do it their way,” he said.
The three officers that fired their weapons are presently on administrative leave as per department policy. The case is being investigated by the department’s internal affairs unit and will be forwarded to the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office.