Newly released bodycam video shows a white police officer shooting an armed black burglary suspect in the back during a foot pursuit.
Officer Jeremy Durocher remains on administrative leave in the October 29 shooting in Portsmouth, Virginia, which left 18-year-old suspect Deontrace Ward injured and facing charges.
Ward, who is charged with six felonies, including armed statutory burglary, assault of a police officer and possession of a firearm by a felon, claims the newly released bodycam video shows that the shooting wasn’t justified.
‘I feel he shot for no reason’, said Ward, who was arrested in possession of a .45 Springfield handgun and stolen jewelry, in an interview with the Virginian-Pilot, which first released the video.
The incident unfolded around noon on a Sunday, when Portsmouth cops responded to a call of a burglary in progress on the 1100 block of Tatem Avenue, a tree-lined street of single-family homes.
Deontrace Ward, who was arrested in possession of a .45 Springfield handgun and stolen jewelry, is charged with six felonies but claims the shooting was not justified
The suspect’s grey pants can be seen in the video as he sprints across the yard, but his upper body can’t be seen clearly enough to tell whether he was holding the gun
Officer Durocher orders the suspect to get on the ground and then fires twice, before the suspect vaults over a red fence
Officer Durocher, a rookie who had been sworn in just six months earlier, takes up a position in the backyard of the house.
Within seconds, he hears a noise around the corner of the house and draws his weapon.
Durocher rounds the corner of the house and sees figure in a black hoodie and grey pants sprinting. The video isn’t clear enough to show whether the suspect had a gun raised, as Durocher says he did.
‘Hey, get on the ground!’ shouts Durocher before firing two shots.
The suspect jumps a red wooden fence, and Durocher whirls to run in the direction the suspect appears to be fleeing.
‘He has a gun, he has a gun!’ Durocher shouts to the other officers in the area.
Durocher rounds the end of the fence and spots the suspect running away. He fires twice more and the suspect falls to the ground.
Durocher rounds the end of the fence and spots the suspect running away. He fires twice more and the suspect falls to the ground next to a child’s wagon
‘Stay down!’ Durocher yells repeatedly as he approaches. At the same time, a group of other officers come around the house on the opposite side of the suspect
The incident lasted just nine seconds from Durocher sighting the suspect to the final shot. For five of those seconds, the suspect was out of his view behind the fence.
‘Stay down!’ Durocher yells repeatedly as he approaches. At the same time, a group of other officers come around the house on the opposite side of the suspect, surrounding him.
‘I can’t breathe,’ moans the suspect, later identified as Ward.
‘If you can talk you can breathe,’ an officer responds as they handcuff him.
Durocher tells the other officers that Ward pointed a gun at him, and they demand to know where the gun is as they pat him down.
The handgun was recovered inside Ward’s right pants leg, near his ankle. Ward claims he never pulled the gun.
Durocher appears clearly shaken and repeatedly insists that he saw a gun, as other officers urge him to take slow breaths and stay calm once Ward is in handcuffs.
A bulge can be seen in Ward’s right pants leg near his ankle, where cops found a handgun
Officer Angelina Baaklini (left) is seen handcuffing Ward. Eight days later, she would be shot and injured by a 15-year-old runaway she was trying to assist
The video ends when a supervisor (pictured) arrives on the scene and warns Durocher to stop talking about the shooting, before his bodycam is cut off
Minutes later, a supervisor arrives on the scene and cuts Durocher off as he tries to describe the incident. The supervisor appears to cut off her body camera and Durocher’s camera then cuts off as well.
Durocher has been on administrative leave while the Virgina State Police investigated the shooting. Prosecutors say they are reviewing the findings to determine whether the shooting was lawful and justified.
The officer’s attorney, Nicholas Renninger, told the Pilot that the shooting was ‘absolutely justified, without reservation.’
‘The suspect was armed, had burglarized a home and was clearly a danger and a threat in that regard,’ Renninger said.
Ward was injured in the back and arm, and is set to stand trial on May 1. His family hopes that the newly released video will draw attention to his case, amid an atmosphere of scrutiny over police shootings of black suspects.
Ward’s criminal record includes a felony theft conviction in September 2016, when he was 17.
Eight days after the shooting, the cop who handcuffed him, Officer Angelina Baaklini, was trying to assist a 15-year-old runaway when the boy shot and injured her.