FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Fort Worth police on Thursday released body camera footage of officers fatally shooting a man who ignored repeated police orders to drop his handgun.
JaQuavion Slaton, 20, died Sunday of multiple gunshot wounds to the head and chest, Dr. Nizam Peerwani, Tarrant County medical examiner, said in a statement. One head wound was self-inflicted and the others were from police bullets, and an investigation continues into whether the self-inflicted gunshot wound was deliberate or accidental, Peerwani said.
Slaton was the fourth suspect Fort Worth police had fired upon in 10 days and the second who was killed.
In introducing the video, interim Police Chief Ed Kraus said three of the department’s Special Response Team officers had gone to an east Fort Worth address four times since May 6 to serve Slaton with warrants issued by the University of Texas at Tyler police accusing him of felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, assault on a family member and evading arrest. Slaton could not be found the first three times, but he was found Sunday during a traffic stop, and the Special Response Team officers went to the scene.
“They already knew Slaton had several warrants for his arrest, and from previous encounters they knew, they believed he was currently armed with a weapon,” Kraus told reporters and community activists.
Kraus they showed body-camera video of a foot pursuit that showed an object in Slaton’s hand that appeared to be a handgun. The pursuing officers are heard shouting, “Gun! Gun! Gun!”
After briefly losing contact with Slaton, officers found him in the cab of a pickup truck.
Officers first approached the truck from behind but moved in front to shield nearby pedestrians from any gunfire, Kraus said. Video showed a semicircle of armored officers in front of the truck, guns drawn, amid shouts of “Put your hands up!”
Finally, one officer shouted, “He’s reaching!” Officers opened fire. Even after a call of “Cease fire!” an officer is heard warning that Slaton still had a gun in his hand.
Kraus said Slaton’s position in the vehicle and the position of body cameras on officers’ chests keep the video from capturing clearly what they saw, Kraus noted. “What is depicted, however, is Slaton not complying with multiple requests to show his hands and Slaton making overt actions which led officers to discharge their firearms,” he said.
Kraus said he hoped the release of the video and the briefing would be “a first step” toward building public trust in the police.
Richard Vazquez, precinct chairman for the neighborhood where Slaton was shot, said the video was a good first step but that more video and statements from officers involved need to be released.
“My community is not going to be satisfied until we know more,” he told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Estella Williams, president of the Fort Worth/Tarrant County branch of the NAACP, also praised the initial release. But she told the Star-Telegram, “I’m hoping there will be some changes. We know there have been lots of shootings in recent weeks and we need information.”