Newly released video footage from October shows a white police officer in Virginia shooting and wounding a black teen who’s sprinting away from cops after allegedly committing a burglary.
“I was just pretty much trying to get away, showing no aggression,” Deontrace Ward, 18, told The Virginian-Pilot.
The dramatic video comes from a body camera worn by Portsmouth police Officer Jeremy Durocher on the afternoon of Oct. 29. Durocher, who at the time had been a cop for about six months, was responding to a call of a crime in progress.
Ward first appears about 16 seconds into the video, running from the front yard of a house. The teen, who police say was armed with a .45-caliber handgun, runs diagonally across the yard, away from Durocher.
The video is grainy, so it’s impossible to tell if Ward is holding a weapon.
The teen scrambles up the side of a privacy fence as Durocher commands him to stop.
“Hey! Get on the ground,” Durocher says, before firing two shots in Ward’s direction.
Seconds later, as Ward clears the fence and sprints through a neighboring yard, Durocher trains his gun on the teen and fires two more shots. Ward collapses to the ground.
Two other officers arrive on the scene. One of them, who has not been identified, warns Ward not to reach for a gun.
“I swear to God you will regret it,” the unidentified officer says.
Durocher told the officers he was frightened when Ward waved a gun at him.
“He didn’t shoot, but he had it [pointed] at me as he come out the window,” the officer said. “That scared me so bad, when I saw the gun waved at me.”
Authorities say a loaded handgun was found in Ward’s right pant leg. This is not shown in the video.
At the end of the six-minute clip, Durocher is heard describing the incident to another officer as he switches off his body camera.
Ward, who reportedly has a prior conviction for felony theft, is accused of stealing jewelry from the residence he is seen fleeing in the video. He faces six felony charges, including armed statutory burglary, assault of a police officer and possession of a firearm by a felon. His trial is scheduled to begin on May 1, according to The Associated Press.
The teen, who reportedly still has a bullet in his abdomen, told The Virginian-Pilot there was “no reason” for the officer to shoot him.
Durocher was placed on administrative duty following the shooting, which is still under investigation by Virginia state police. Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Morales is also investigating whether the use of force was justified, CBS News reports.
Durocher’s attorney, Nicholas Renninger, contends the shooting was “absolutely justified.”
“The suspect was armed, had burglarized a home and was clearly a danger and a threat in that regard,” Renninger told The Virginian-Pilot. “I have no qualms whatsoever in saying that my client’s actions in protecting himself and those around him were justified.”
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