Officers felt citizens at-risk - Beloit Daily News: News

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Officers felt citizens at-risk

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Posted: Monday, July 29, 2013 11:45 am | Updated: 12:23 pm, Mon Jul 29, 2013.

Two Beloit Police officers fired on the fleeing vehicle driven by Darrius Lowery-Baptiste because they felt one of the officers and other citizens in the downtown commercial district were in immediate danger, according to reports compiled by the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation.

Those reports and a squad car dash-camera video were obtained by the Beloit Daily News in response to the newspaper’s open records requests.

Police had been conducting surveillance of Darrius Lowery-Baptiste on the day he was fatally shot by officers, according to interviews given by the officers to state investigators.

Lowery-Baptiste was shot and killed by police on June 11 after officers boxed in his vehicle and attempted to arrest him near the corner of State Street and Grand Avenue in downtown Beloit.

Video of the incident was captured by the dash-camera of a Beloit squad car arriving on the scene just as it unfolded. The video shows one unmarked police vehicle in the front and another in the back of Lowery-Baptiste’s vehicle, a white Ford Taurus, attempting to prevent him from fleeing. Officers in the two vehicles had been watching Lowery-Baptiste and engineered the blocking maneuver in an attempt to take him into custody.

The entire incident takes about one minute, according to the time on the police camera.

Officer Brian Miller is heard shouting at Lowery-Baptiste to put his vehicle in park and that he was under arrest. All three officers at the scene had their firearms drawn at one point.

Sgt. Daniel Tilley was positioned at the driver’s side window of the vehicle and Officer Seth Hendricks was at the front passenger side window. Both Miller and Hendricks attempted to break the vehicle’s windows by kicking them.

Miller said Lowery-Baptiste told police “don’t shoot me.” Miller said no one was going to shoot him and told him to unlock his door and exit the vehicle. Lowery-Baptiste’s Ford Taurus then is seen trying to back up, striking the police vehicle at the rear. He then turns the wheel sharply to the left and accelerates toward Tilley, who jumps back to avoid being hit.

At that point, Tilley and Hendricks both fired their weapons multiple times at the vehicle. A majority of the shots were fired after the driver of the vehicle made it past the police officers.

Tilley said he believed his life was in “imminent danger.” Hendricks also said he believed Tilley’s life was at risk, along with the lives of others at the nearby stoplight intersection. Hendricks said he had noticed a group of people at the intersection of State and Grand, in the direction Lowery-Baptiste was attempting to flee. He said he believed Lowery-Baptiste would have hurt others in order to get away.

In the wake of the shots, the vehicle veers to the right and slams into the southwest building at the corner of Grand Avenue and State Street. The three officers then approach the vehicle as more squad cars begin to show up. Lowery-Baptiste was secured with handcuffs.

As Lowery-Baptiste’s clothing was searched a number of items were recovered, Hendricks said, including “several small baggies of white substance,” according to official reports.

Officers are heard telling Lowery-Baptiste to “hang in there,” “keep breathing” and “the ambulance is on its way.”

About five minutes into the video a fire truck and ambulance arrive on the scene, and place Lowery-Baptiste in the ambulance. The ambulance does not leave the scene for the entire 45-minute video.

Earlier reports indicated Lowery-Baptiste was pronounced dead on the scene.

When the ambulance arrived the handcuffs were removed to allow medical treatment. When Lowery-Baptiste was moved a gun was discovered.

The Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation conducted separate interviews of all three officers on the Thursday after the shooting.

Police had stepped up patrol presence after several shots-fired incidents occurred throughout the city in May and June, Miller said in his interview.

Miller told investigators during a June 7 briefing he received pictures and information on individuals believed to be involved in the shootings and “high risk to flee.” Lowery-Baptiste was one of those listed.

The individuals were believed to be armed, the report said.

Lowery-Baptiste had an active warrant out for him through the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, and was wanted by Beloit Police after his cell phone was recovered at one of the shooting locations.

Miller and Tilley both indicated during their interviews they were conducting surveillance of the Ford Taurus believed to be “associated” with Lowery-Baptiste on June 11.

Surveillance began around 4 p.m. at a home on Fifth Street where the Ford Taurus was located. Beloit Police Detectives Craig Johnson and David Hoffman and Ronald Betley from the Rock County Sheriff’s Safe Streets Task Force were leading the surveillance.

Miller told DCI investigators that around 5 p.m. the other officers had all left to end their shift, and only he and Tilley were on the scene conducting surveillance.

Tilley and Miller were preparing to end surveillance when Miller noticed Lowery-Baptiste’s vehicle traveling southbound on Fifth Street.

Miller followed the vehicle from Fifth Street until it reached the intersection at Grand Avenue and State Street. Tilley told investigators he was in the Tilley’s Pizza parking lot at the corner of Fourth Street and Portland Avenue when he saw Lowery-Baptiste traveling south on Fourth Street.

Tilley ended up in front of the vehicle near Grand and State and Miller was in the back. The officers decided to box the vehicle in because they believed Lowery-Baptiste would flee if they tried a normal traffic stop.

An autopsy indicated Lowery-Baptiste was hit up to six times by bullets. Three of the wounds were serious enough to be fatal, according to the autopsy conducted by Dr. Kristin Roman, deputy medical examiner for Dane County.

Parental discretion advised

This video is from a Beloit Police Department squad car’s dash-camera, at the scene of the June 11 shooting in downtown Beloit. This excerpt covers the beginning of the traffic stop through the arrival of emergency medical personnel. There is both video and audio of the events. The pictures are not gruesome, but they may be disturbing. The Beloit Daily News advises parental discretion.

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13 comments:

  • dunky79 posted at 8:30 pm on Tue, Jul 30, 2013.

    dunky79 Posts: 74

    BPD officers saved themselves, nobody else got hurt, job well done. End of story.

     
  • cynicaleye posted at 11:48 am on Tue, Jul 30, 2013.

    cynicaleye Posts: 459

    Lowery-Baptiste put himself in that situation. His friends and family put him in that situation. They knew he was wanted by the police for questioning in several shootings, they knew there was a warrant out for his arrest, yet they did nothing. And when he was stopped by the police, he made the decision to put officers lives at risk by trying to escape. His action led to the shooting. Period.

     
  • Opinionated posted at 10:10 am on Tue, Jul 30, 2013.

    Opinionated Posts: 80

    One of those officers is a family member to me. To watch him in a situation like this was heart-breaking. I am grateful that he had the proper training to do what was necessary to protect himself and others around him. Everyone is talking about how many shots were fired and how many other people could have been hurt. No one else was hurt. Others could have been hurt if they had let him get away. This was 5:15 in downtown. Do you realize how many pedestrians and vehicles are downtown at 5:15? A lot! There are about 200 people alone that leave the bank everyday, not to mention all of the other businesses. I say "Kudos" to all of the officers involved! Thank you for keeping the rest of us safe!

     
  • truth1 posted at 7:47 am on Tue, Jul 30, 2013.

    truth1 Posts: 53

    Motor-vehicle violence was taken seriously in this situation as it should be all the time, but isn't.

     
  • truth1 posted at 7:38 am on Tue, Jul 30, 2013.

    truth1 Posts: 53

    Those are my thoughts exactly, billtinder....I didn't know until I saw the video...........OMG!!!

    Sure, 15 shots seems like a lot but in life/death situations, 15 shots go off REAL quick.

    ..

     
  • billtinder posted at 9:54 pm on Mon, Jul 29, 2013.

    billtinder Posts: 4642

    I don't think any retraining is necessary....

    As a matter of fact I believe those officers reacted exactly as they should have.

    They were in the process of apprehending a dangerous suspect who was already wanted in connection with a prior shooting incident. He should have known that police officers carry loaded guns in order to enforce their apprehensions and that to resist is to risk being shot. The officers had their guns out, so I think anyone with a lick of common sense would conclude that they might be serious about the suspect surrendering. Mr. Lowery- Baptiste's erratic escape immediately turned his vehicle into a deadly weapon.
    The officers actions were completely justified.

     
  • luckydog posted at 9:35 pm on Mon, Jul 29, 2013.

    luckydog Posts: 3386

    Police are trained to keep firing until the threat is neutralized once they have to shoot. This shooting was extensively investigated and found to be justified. Let's move on.

     
  • beloiter posted at 8:42 pm on Mon, Jul 29, 2013.

    beloiter Posts: 1820

    I fully support the decision and actions of the BPD in what was a crazy situation to say the least. Second guessing is pointless. That said, suggesting that pumping bullets into a man who is driving away is the safest way to get a situation like that under control is utter nonsense. It is plain as day in the video that the dying driver lost control of that car almost immediately. All praises to God, Allah and whoever else I can pray to that no children had wandered into the path of that careening vehicle. I understand that the fear those police officers felt for themselves and each other caused them to make decisions that, perhaps, they wouldn't otherwise make especially when having the recording played back for them. There was a gun found and it was probably best for the whole thing to end the way it did rather than erupting into a volley of gunfire between bad guy and officers, but those officers didn't know of the gun until they had fired more than a dozen rounds into that car. Was it hasty? You bet it was and every officer should be retrained using that video as examples of both what to do and what not to do. Would I condemn any of the officers involved for what I saw them do in that video? Never.

     
  • LtlBoyBlue posted at 8:02 pm on Mon, Jul 29, 2013.

    LtlBoyBlue Posts: 6

    Good job by the Beloit PD. They were looking out for the public and followed the protocol they were thought. I watched the full video and this is not a case of bad cops. This is a case of a person making a really poor choice to try and escape the police. Any normal person would have surrendered to the police only a guilty person would have attempted a desperate escape.

     
  • cynicaleye posted at 7:28 pm on Mon, Jul 29, 2013.

    cynicaleye Posts: 459

    Perhaps Darrius Lowery-Baptiste should have surrendered and let himself be arrested.

     
  • cynicaleye posted at 7:12 pm on Mon, Jul 29, 2013.

    cynicaleye Posts: 459

    Me2: Since you seem to know how this should have been handled, why not join the police department? Second guessing is easy isn't it.

     
  • Me2 posted at 6:57 pm on Mon, Jul 29, 2013.

    Me2 Posts: 61

    I watched the video... and I feel the shooting, regardless of whether or not it was justified, was irresponsible . Far too many shots were fired without concern for innocent people and other officers in the area. Why didn't the officer pull up next to the car to truly block him in? Why wasn't any first aid given to him? Why fifteen shots? I know when you have to make a split second decision its hard to make a call, but I think a little more caution could have had far different results.

     
  • FaceTheFacts posted at 1:41 pm on Mon, Jul 29, 2013.

    FaceTheFacts Posts: 327

    Thank you BDN and due dilegence for reporting and in depth coverage.

     

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