Crime

Fort Worth police release video showing new angles of JaQuavion Slaton’s shooting death

Police release more body camera footage of fatal shooting of JaQuavion Slaton 

The Fort Worth Police Department released body camera video from seven officers, recorded during the fatal shooting of JaQuavion Slaton on June 9, 2019.
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The Fort Worth Police Department released body camera video from seven officers, recorded during the fatal shooting of JaQuavion Slaton on June 9, 2019.

A Fort Worth police officer peers through glass and into the cab of a rusted flatbed truck parked on grass, realizing an assault suspect he has been looking for is inside. Sweat shines on his neck. He tries the door handle and finds it locked.

Seventy-two seconds slip by. Then, what appears to be a muzzle flash from behind the windshield. The officer and two others begin to fire on the wanted man.

The length of time that elapsed between discovery and death became clear Wednesday when the Fort Worth Police Department released nine body camera and dashboard camera video recordings from the perspective of seven officers who were searching for JaQuavion Slaton.

Slaton, 20, suffered seven gunshot wounds, six of which of were fired by three officers, and another that Slaton fired himself, the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office has said.

Police previously released officer body camera video of Slaton running with a pistol in his hand after he leaped from a car that police had stopped on East Berry Street on a Sunday afternoon in early June.

Slaton, who police had intended to arrest because he had been charged with aggravated assault in a warrant, ran with his cousin from the car after the June 9 traffic stop.

Slaton is only visible in body camera video when he is running from officers. He is not visible when he is in the truck.

The videos released Wednesday make clear the officers did not immediately realize that Slaton was in the cab of the truck. The truck was parked in grass in a yard on East Berry Street, near Lauretta Drive. In one video, an officer suggests Slaton was likely headed home. The officer looks under the truck but not inside its cab.

Police found Slaton’s cousin hiding under the same truck, but officers did not know Slaton was in its cab. As officers handcuffed him, the cousin, Jevon Monroe, 17, told police he did not know where Slaton was.

Officers searched a storage structure next to the truck and walked beside it without alarm.

Eventually, an officer walked close to the truck.

In the video, he steps back and radios for other special response team officers in the area to join him.

“Same spot where we found the other guy,” the officer says. “I think he’s hiding in the truck.”

Six other officers stand in a half circle around the front of the truck. They warn each other aloud about crossfire danger as one officer strays too close to the passenger side door and potentially into the path of another officer were he to fire from the end of the half circle.

Officers roar instructions. “Hands up!” “Hands up right now!”

An officer pounds his hand against the hood. Another cracks the driver’s side window with his gun.

“He’s reaching.”

Then, a fusillade of shots.

Interim Police Chief Ed Kraus has said officers fired when Slaton raised the gun. Little inside the cab is visible in the videos.

After the officers shoot Slaton they can be heard saying that he still has a gun in his right hand. Police later said they found a loaded Glock 10-mm handgun and shell casing in the truck.

Two days after Slaton died, police said they had no plans to release the video. A day after that, they released video from a camera worn by one officer who was present at the time of the shooting. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram filed a public records request seeking the videos released on Wednesday. The police department has not responded to the newspaper’s request for the names of the three officers who fired.

Police redacted some material in the videos, including by covering portions of officers’ uniforms that would show their names.

Slaton dies during the recordings.

“He’s still breathing,” an officer says at one point.

Then, later, as they move toward the passenger side door, an officer reports:

“He’s. He’s. He’s dead, guys. He’s got a bullet wound to the head.”

In another body camera video recording, a woman with whom Slaton had been in a relationship and who was driving the car from which Slaton and his cousin ran, is interviewed by an officer. She says she was driving to a gas station when she was stopped.

Slaton suffered two high-velocity gunshot wounds, one to the upper anterior chest and the other to the upper right shoulder with .223-caliber rounds, the medical examiner’s office said. There also were gunshot wounds to the right side of his head, upper right neck, posterior neck at the base of his head and upper right arm by 9-mm rounds. All of the wounds were potentially fatal except for a wound to the arm, according to the report.

The self-inflicted gunshot wound was to the right side of Slaton’s head. The Medical Examiner’s Office said it had not determined whether it was an intentional or accidental gunshot.

The case will be reviewed by a Tarrant County grand jury once internal investigations are complete.

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