Fort Worth PD releases bodycam of deadly hostage situation; suspect used victim as 'human shield'
The Fort Worth Police Department has released body camera footage of a hostage situation that ended with the suspect and a victim dead on Sunday evening.
The department released a video that had radio traffic and the video footage, along with police chief Neil Noakes describing the incident.
Police in Fort Worth said this week that they were called around 7:23 p.m. Sunday to help the Troy, Texas, police department with a chase that was going north on Interstate 35.
During the incident, police said they were advised that the vehicle in question involved an armed passenger and a driver who was described as a hostage.
"Subject is armed with a handgun. Subject also has a passenger in the vehicle. The male has threatened to shoot the passenger," was said during a portion of radio traffic that was released on Wednesday.
The vehicle being chased eventually crashed on I-35W near Spur 280, police said.
Noakes said officers at the scene ordered the occupants out of the vehicle but couldn't see inside due to debris from the crash, deployed airbags and other items in the rear window.
"He looks like he’s got a gun to somebody’s neck. The driver is a female and it looks like he’s got a gun to her neck," was said from Air One over radio traffic.
According to Noakes, the suspect wasn't allowing the victim to exit the vehicle. The chief said there was some sort of struggle between the suspect and victim and that officers then heard a gunshot come from inside.
Noakes said officers formed a rescue team and approached the vehicle. Officers found that the victim was now lying on top of the suspect in the driver's seat and that he was using the victim as a "human shield," Noakes said.
In the bodycam footage, officers could be heard giving the suspect multiple commands to drop his weapon. The footage showed the suspect holding the gun to the victim's stomach area.
Multiple times, an officer could be heard yelling, "don't do it," "take your hand off the gun," and "drop the gun."
While yelling the commands, two officers eventually fired their weapons at the suspect, striking him. Gunshots could be heard in the video, but police did not show the shooting.
In Wednesday's video message, Noakes said the officers had feared the suspect would shoot the victim again.
An officer transported the victim to a hospital due to traffic congestion, which made it hard for medical aid to arrive at the scene.
The victim died at the hospital, while the suspect died at the scene, Noakes said.
The Tarrant County Medical Examiner on Tuesday identified the suspect as J'Quinnton D. Hopson, 38, and the victim as Shaelan J. Hill, 31.
In a different angle of the incident, Noakes said one officer's body camera showed that the slide of the suspect's gun was jammed and "that there was no magazine in the magazine well."
Noakes clarified that body cameras film from the chest level of the officer and at a lower view than what the officer actually sees.
"Our officers were faced with a hostage situation involving a man holding a gun against a woman that he had already shot," Noakes said.
"Our hearts and prayers go out to everyone involved in and affected by this tragic incident," the chief added.
Dr. Alex Del Carmen, an associate dean and criminologist at Tarleton State University, told WFAA that the officers in the video appeared to respond appropriately based on the footage released.
“So far, I haven’t seen anything on this video that raises concern on my end as to what the officers were trying to do in a very difficult situation," Del Carmen said. "What is clear is the fact that the officers perceived there was a viable real threat."
"Every second counts. The other option would’ve been to allow the individual to stay barricaded in the vehicle and bring a negotiator, but that would’ve taken time, and in this type of situation, time is of the essence,” Del Carmen added.
Noakes said the investigation and evidence will be turned over to the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office and grand jury for review.