Shreveport, Lousiana Police Shooting of Marquise Hudspeth

The decedent led police on a five-mile chase after failing to stop for a moving violation. After stopping at a Circle K market, the decedent attempted to flee on foot and was shot by two officers who stated that they believed he had a gun in his hand -- it was not a gun but a metallic chrome colored cell phone. 

I am not involved in any official investigation but I was asked about the incident and I reviewed the three police car video tapes segments publicly available. 

Central Issues

1. Could the officers could have reasonably believed the suspect was armed with a gun?

2. Was the suspect simply trying to flee or did he intentionally act as if he were armed?

Findings

(Based on the limited data available to me)

1. Could the officers could have reasonably believed the suspect was armed with a gun?

Yes.

A. It is important to note that when Officer Hathorn (on the left) stopped his vehicle, he saw the suspect in a combat shooting stance holding a shiny metallic object -- apparently aiming a firearm at him. When viewed from the front, it is very difficult (often impossible) to clearly see what someone is holding in a two-handed grip -- whether a gun or a shiny cell phone. 

B. Law enforcement personnel are highly aware of the existence of a functional cell phone gun. This is a professionally produced (likely in Eastern Europe) firearm which is built in to a cell phone housing and looks exactly like a genuine cell phone. It would be reasonable to conclude that if someone is aiming a cell phone like a gun, it may indeed be a gun.

C. Officer Hathorn's actions as seen in the video is consistent with a belief that he was in imminent danger of being shot. In the above video frames, he clearly ducks defensively each time the suspect turns toward him. A further review of the video segments shows that Hathorn also reacted similarly in the first part of the incident, when he had just stopped his vehicle and got out.

Enlarged View of "Unit 170-Ramsey" Video

In the short period of time the officers had to make a judgment about the situation, the very shiny, metallic appearing cell phone did resemble a firearm and it was prudent and reasonable for the officers to assume that it was indeed a firearm. This is particularly true in view of the the manner in which the decedent "aimed" or pointed the cell phone.

It is further noted that:
The suspect could have easily prevented the shooting from occurring if he had done any one of these actions:

  1.  Stopped for the first police car.
  2.  Stopped at any time during the chase.
  3.  Stayed in his stopped car until ordered out.
  4.  Got out of his car with nothing in his hands.
  5.  Not pointed the cell phone like a gun.
  6.  Not resisted the officer trying to stop him.
  7.  Stopped and raised his hands when he saw the officer's gun in his face.
  8.  Stopped and raised his hands when the first shots were fired.
  9.  Not turned around pointing the cell phone again while being chased.
  10.  Dropped to the ground at any time.