General Crime

Selma, Alabama Police Officer Cleared in Shooting of Ax-Wielding Black Man Caught on Camera


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Selma, Alabama police body camera video from a December 2013 officer-involved shooting was released on Thursday.

The officer has been cleared following a State Bureau of Investigation and District Attorney investigation and a grand jury decision — an outcome Selma’s Police Chief traces back to the body camera or “Vid Mic” the officer was wearing. (story continues below video)

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The footage is reigniting the conversation surrounding use of force by law enforcement and the need for body cameras.

The officer responsible for shooting and killing 74-year-old Ananias Shaw was not indicted after officials say his body camera footage showed the victim holding a hatchet and rushing toward him.

You can hear the officer asking the man to drop the ax numerous times throughout the footage.

“At that point when he turns to the officer and comes toward him with the ax as he closes in on the officer and the officer fires one round, to stop the threat,” said Selma Police Chief William T. Riley.

Selma Police Chief William Riley says deadly force is always a last resort, but it is an officer’s duty to protect and serve, and the department’s “Vid Mics” are serving both the public and police.

“Because right then and there its going to be only the officer and that individual and we need to know and I say we, the public for our public trust, need to know what really happened,” Riley said.

Riley believes every law enforcement agency in the country needs some form of recording device.

“Everything goes back to making sure the police are doing what they’re supposed to be doing and show what exactly the public is doing,” Riley said.

It’s an issue based on accountability sparking debate and controversy around the country.

“After the Ferguson issue and other issues all over the country came up regarding police shootings and situations, they realized, hey, this little device here can save our necks,” Riley said.

The devices come with a price. The department only has 25 Vid Mics, mostly reserved for patrol units. They would need 30 more to outfit every officer and at $600-$700 a piece that causes a challenge for the department.

“Yes there’s been talk I think even the justice department had mentioned something about getting funding to help agencies purchase these items that’s all good and dandy the talk but for us smaller agencies, we want to see the proof we want to see the funding,” Riley said. “It’s not one against another, you know citizens against police or police against citizens no, we’re all in this together, we are in this together.”

Police said they wanted to wait until the victims’ family had seen the video before releasing it to the public.

Riley says family members have questioned why officers followed Shaw.

Selma police release video from 2013 fatal officer-involved shooting

video footage caught on tape cellphone camera surveillance raw dash cam

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