Nine months after a man who Pueblo Police say was a known gang member was shot and killed by officers during a tense confrontation, the department released body camera footage of the incident showing multiple vantage points.
The Pueblo Police Department chose to release the video publicly in light of a criminal justice records request, according to a news release that was distributed on Wednesday morning. The officers involved were cleared of any wrongdoing by the Pueblo County District Attorney's Office on Aug. 14.
Pueblo Police say they were searching for the suspect, identified as 35-year-old Andrew Byrd, after a woman reported that he was armed and had stolen her vehicle the night of Feb. 4, 2017. He had several warrants for his arrest at the time, according to the Pueblo Police Department.
Initially, the news release says the officers determined the vehicle was a “civil matter” but nevertheless tried to find Byrd. Just after midnight the next day, the woman called police again and said Byrd and another man had returned to her home in a different car, a gray Toyota Camry.
Over the radio, dispatch said “the male parties had guns in their laps,” per the woman’s report.
When Pueblo Officer Todd Whittemore headed to the scene, the news release says he drove by the Toyota Camry and shined his spotlight into the vehicle, but didn’t see anyone inside.
The news release says Whittemore then made a u-turn and pulled behind the sedan, and suddenly saw its brake lights illuminate. That’s when he turned on his overhead emergency lights, and police say Byrd backed into Whittemore’s patrol vehicle.
Meanwhile, another officer – identified as Neal Robinson – drove down the street toward Whittemore and watched as Byrd rapidly accelerated and turned to the left, moving up from behind a semi-trailer parked in front of him and into traffic.
Robinson pulled up next to the semi, according to Pueblo Police, and Byrd then tried to turn right, crashing into the side of the truck on his passenger side.
He appeared boxed in, and Pueblo Police say Whittemore got out of his vehicle and at gunpoint, tried to get Byrd to stop his car.
Robinson also got out of his patrol car near the front of the Camry, according to the news release, and ordered Byrd to turn off the vehicle.
Here’s the account of what occurred next from the news release:
“Mr. Byrd put his hands up. but then reached down to the console shifter and turned around to look back at Officer Whittemore. Mr. Byrd then disregarded officers’ commands and rapidly reversed the Camry, violently crashing into the front of Mr. Whittemore’s patrol vehicle and physically knocking Officer Whittemore, who was standing outside of his patrol vehicle behind the driver’s side door, backward.
“Mr. Byrd then turned into the direction of Officer Robison and accelerated. Officer Robinson stepped back and closed the driver’s door to his patrol vehicle, with the back of his body against the patrol vehicle. Officer Robinson aimed his duty firearm at Mr. Byrd and tracked him as he drove toward Officer Robinson. As Mr. Byrd drove by Officer Robinson, Officer Robison fired one shot into the driver’s side window of the Camry. The shot killed Mr. Byrd. Another officer on scene, Officer Bernadette Lambert, fired her duty firearm but did not strike Mr. Byrd.”
Police say this partially because Byrd was believed to be armed and because Robinson said he felt his life was in danger when he saw the suspect reach under his seat toward the console.
Robinson said he also felt like he was in danger when Byrd started driving toward him.
Lambert said she fired her weapon because she thought Byrd had shot Robinson.
The video of the shooting shows Whittemore’s dash and body cameras, as well as Robinson’s dash and body cameras.
It was uploaded directly to YouTube by Pueblo Police and shared on Facebook and Twitter.
You can watch the video in full below. Warning: It could be disturbing to some viewers, and discretion is advised.