In what has been described as “an absolutely unreasonable shooting” by legal experts, a new video has been released showing the final moments of Cameron Massey before he was fatally shot by officers from the town of Eufala, Alabama.
Massey, 26 and unarmed, is seen in the video sitting in the passenger’s seat of the vehicle and boxed in by multiple police cruisers when officers fired five shots, killing him instantly.
The video, which had already been seen by Massey’s family and attorney, hadn’t been previously released publicly and casts doubt on earlier claims that the two officers involved in the shooting had acted in self-defense.
“You have a situation where two officers beside the vehicle, which was blocked in, there was just no danger to the officers or anyone there,” Mario Williams, the lawyer for the Massey family, told the Daily News.
“I believe officer’s safety is a real issue, but you can’t justify lethal force if you have no facts that you were in danger,” he added.
Massey’s family filed a civil lawsuit in July 2015 for his death claiming that because Massey’s car had been pulled over in the gravel parking lot of an auto-body shop, he had nowhere to flee.
“He was never in the driver’s seat and the car went essentially nowhere,” the complaint alleges.
Massey, who was from Columbus, Ga., and the driver of the black Infinity he was in were pulled over after they changed lanes illegally and after reports that a vehicle of that description was transporting a load of marijuana, according to Buzzfeed News.
Footage Police Chief Ralph Conner’s body cam – first obtained by Buzzfeed News – clearly shows Conner pointing and firing his weapon at Massey before the vehicle moved, a staunch contradiction to the police reports filed by the officers involved in the confrontation.
We have seen countless videos over the past 18 months shake our collective conscience. In this particular case, what I find to be most emblematic of our systemic problems within law enforcement divisions – regardless of race – is how quickly the officers in this video move to both draw, and ultimately use, their firearms.
At the beginning of the video, Conner can be seen calmly yet sternly approaching the driver’s seat window and asking Massey to put his hands on the dashboard in plain view. Immediately following, as Conner walks to the passenger side (where Massey is seated), the situation is escalated by what Conner perceives to be a hostile disobeying of his direct orders, and instantly proceeds to draw his weapon. From there, as we have seen all too often, the situation proves fatal within minutes.
Will Cameron Massey be the latest rallying cry for law enforcement reform?
Specifically, will this video show us the inherent need for the implementation of advanced deescalation practices?
One can only hope, as too many mothers have senselessly lost their children.