Police release gunfire footage
Little Rock police have released video and audio recordings that provide new details on a fatal officer-involved shooting last year.…
Little Rock police have released video and audio recordings that provide new details on a fatal officer-involved shooting last year.
The recordings document the killing of Roy Lee Richards Jr., 46, on the morning of Oct. 25. Officers Dennis Hutchins and Juston Tyer encountered Richards at 12:47 a.m. at 514 E. Eighth St. after being called about a fight at the address. Police said Richards got a rifle when the officers arrived, and Hutchins, armed with a .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle, shot and killed him.
Officers learned minutes later that the gun Richards had been carrying was an air rifle. A dashboard-mounted camera in Hutchins’ patrol vehicle was recording when another officer told Hutchins about the rifle.
“That’s a pellet gun.”
Hutchins told investigators that he shot Richards because Richards was pointing a rifle at another man’s back and appeared ready to fire, according to police. After a police investigation of the killing, prosecutors cleared Hutchins of any legal wrongdoing.
Richards’ family has accused Hutchins of using excessive force. His sister, Vanessa Cole, filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit against Hutchins and Police Chief Kenton Buckner this month. The suit also accuses Hutchins of violating numerous department regulations in the encounter with Richards.
Chicago attorney Mike Laux, who is representing Cole, said in a statement Thursday that the police recordings prove that Hutchins arrived at the scene without his emergency lights activated and did not warn Richards before he shot.
The lawsuit also states that Hutchins wielded a semi-automatic rifle without permission from a supervisor.
The recordings, released to KTHV-TV, Channel 11, show Hutchins pull up to the scene without his lights flashing and get out of his vehicle carrying a rifle. Video from Tyer’s vehicle shows that he also pulled up without his lights activated. In Tyer’s vehicle, “Rockin’ into the Night” by 38 Special can be heard playing.
“Hey, they’re fistfighting,” Hutchins says in the darkness. Hutchins can be heard loading his weapon as he walks out of view.
He cannot be heard speaking again before five shots ring out about 25 seconds later.
After the gunfire, someone screams, “Please stop! Please stop shooting! Please stop shooting!”
Hutchins then calls out “shots fired, suspect down,” and requests an ambulance.
“Oh, s***,” Tyer says, breathing heavily.
Hutchins can later be heard explaining to other officers what happened.
“He chased the victim up in the house with a long gun,” he says of Richards.
Richards had been fighting with his uncle Derrell Underwood before police were called to the house on East Eighth Street that morning. Underwood was one of several people in the neighborhood who called 911. He told dispatchers that his nephew was drunk. He said he didn’t want Richards to get hurt, he just wanted him to leave.
Underwood has publicly disputed the police account of his nephew’s death. He said Richards was not pointing a gun at his back when police opened fire. Underwood said he’d gone inside the house, locked the door and walked to another room when the shooting occurred.
He told that to police minutes after the killing.
“I went back in the house, and he started shooting,” Underwood says, referring to police, in the audio recordings.
In the recordings, Tyer can be heard apologizing to Hutchins after the gunfire.
“Sorry, dude,” he says. “My scope didn’t come on.”
He apologizes again later.
“The only reason I didn’t is because I couldn’t get my scope to come on,” Tyer says.
Laux on Thursday accused the department of withholding the audio and video recordings in violation of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act. He said police did not provide him the recordings until June 7, after he’d requested them numerous times as part of the civil-rights lawsuit.
The suit is ongoing.
Metro on 09/15/2017
Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Police release gunfire footage