Police release video of officer shooting boy, 11, who had called 911 for help
Body camera video released by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation shows the moment an 11-year-old boy was shot and wounded by a police officer last May in his home after calling authorities for help.
Officials in Mississippi made the footage available this week after calls for its release from Aderrien Murry's mother, Nakala Murry, and the family's attorney.
Last month, a grand jury in Mississippi determined that there was no criminal conduct by the officer, Sgt. Greg Capers, and that no further action or charges will be taken against him.
In the video obtained by NPR, Capers is shown repeatedly banging on the Murry family's front door until the dispatcher on the other end gives Capers permission to "kick it in."
Later, Capers is shown in the frame attempting to kick in the door but struggling to do so — and he is heard telling the dispatcher, "It ain't that easy."
After the door is opened, Capers is heard shouting, "Let me see your hands" repeatedly while Nakala Murry stands at the front door with her hands up.
"Where's he at? Where's he at?" Capers says to Murry, as she gestures inside the home with her head.
Capers asks Aderrien Murry's mother to come out of the home, as he continues to shout for a man who was reported to be causing the disturbance.
"Does he have any weapons? Come out, sir — don't make us come in," Capers says. "Police! If you got any weapons, you better put them down," Capers warns as he begins to enter the Murry family's empty living room.
At that moment, Aderrien Murry is seen walking into the frame with his hands over his head. Capers immediately opens fire, shooting the 11-year-old in the chest.
"Oh, my God!" Capers shouts as Aderrien begins to scream in pain.
Capers begins to call for an ambulance, as Aderrien runs outside yelling for his mother.
"Med-stat, we need it now!" Capers yells to dispatch on his radio.
Aderrien survived the shooting but suffered a collapsed lung, a fractured rib and a lacerated liver. In May 2023, his family filed a $5 million federal lawsuit that argues the police officers who responded to the domestic disturbance call acted in a way that was "so outrageous that it shocks the moral and legal conscience of the community."
The Indianola Police Department did not respond to NPR's request for comment regarding the release of the body camera footage.
"The release of this video allows the world to independently assess whether the actions of Greg Capers were justified when he shot unarmed 11-year-old Aderrien Murry in the chest," said Carlos Moore, the attorney representing the Murry family, in a statement.
Aderrien's mother, Nakala Murry, told NPRprior to the release of the bodycam footage that the shooting could have been avoided, especially by a trained police officer.
"Things need to change. People need to show more accountability. Laws need to be [changed]," Murry said.
Several questions remain unanswered
Police responses to 911 calls "can go terribly, terribly wrong," said David Harris, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
Many questions are left open in this case that the body camera footage doesn't answer, said Harris, who has researched police conduct. Police responded to the house with a level of deadly force that may not have been necessary, Harris said.
It's unclear so far what information the officers were given ahead of arriving.
The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is not releasing copies of the 911 call placed by Aderrien Murry, telling NPR that Mississippi state law determines these types of records to be confidential.
The MBI provided NPR files from its investigation into the shooting that include witness statements from the dispatcher, Jada Rush, and the officers, Capers and Officer Talejia Webb.
On the day of the May 20, 2023, shooting, the two officers received word from Rush to arrive at the Murry home for a call of a domestic dispute.
Police officers respond to potential domestic violence-related calls knowing that these are considered some of the most dangerous calls they could get summoned to, Harris said.
"They're not wrong to wonder what they're facing. But it's terribly important to have as much information as possible" given to officers before they arrive at these homes, he said.
In this case, the witness statements offer conflicting details
The body camera footage, in this case, is not clear on what information police officers were given before arriving at the Murry family's home.
What is known, based on previous NPR interviews and investigative files, is that Aderrien's mother, Nakala Murry, said she had her son call the police and his grandmother for help after a still-unidentified man arrived.
Harris said the dispatcher, Rush, should have communicated that there were children on the scene and that one boy was the person calling for help.
Based on the MBI investigative files, it is still unclear whether this was done.
In an interview with the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation dated May 20, 2023, Rush says that she told officers that she was on the phone with the 11-year-old. Rush also told investigators she received a second call from Aderrien Murry's grandmother once she dispatched the officers — saying they needed to make contact with Nakala Murry.
In one of Capers' statements to investigators, he said that 911 dispatch received a call from the grandmother of Nakala Murry — not the young boy. He also said that the mother didn't tell officers when they arrived that there were children, including Aderrien and other kids, at home.
The body camera footage doesn't indicate she shared that information with police in the tense moments leading up to the shooting.
"And this is very significant because it should be noted — and I don't know if it was or it wasn't — but the dispatcher has that information that a child is calling. And that should be passed on to officers on the scene for safety's sake," Harris said.
This case has echoes of the killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in 2014, Harris said.
Tamir was shot by police after officers arrived at a Cleveland, Ohio, park where he was playing with a toy gun, and they shot him almost immediately upon arriving. Police, in that case, were not told by dispatch that the person calling 911 indicated that the gun was a toy and that Tamir was a juvenile.
Webb told investigators that her body camera died before arriving to the home. But in her statement to investigators, she indicated that she called dispatch once she and Capers got to the front door.
Capers' body camera footage shows officers asked Nakala Murry whether the man Aderrien was calling about was armed. It's unclear from the audio what her response was to that question.
"And that would make a difference. Because if she says no, which I didn't hear, or if she says yes, you can imagine quite different scenarios. So those are sort of two things that stick out as unresolved," Harris said.
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