Body camera footage showing the moment Nash County deputies shot and killed a man in front of his home only show the vantage point of an officer pulling up to the scene.
None of the three officers directly involved in the deadly shooting turned on their body cams until after 28-year-old Jonathan Ramirez had been shot.
If deputies are making a traffic stop or headed to the scene of any kind of a criminal investigation, Nash County policy said their body cameras should be turned on. In this case, they weren’t.
Deputies claim Ramirez was armed and pointed a gun at them. But, from the angle of the video, it can’t be seen if Ramirez had a gun.
“Our policy indicates if we’re making traffic stops or some type of criminal investigation and we’re going to make contact with someone, then we’ll turn the cameras on. But, if all of the sudden something happens very quickly that you were not anticipating, you might not have an opportunity to actually turn the camera on. And at that point, you have to take care of what’s in front and take care of the call you’re on,” said Captain Allen Wilson with the Nash County sheriff’s office.
So should a deputy turn on the body cam before or while heading to a scene where someone is expected to be armed?
“Right now, policy says if you’re going to respond to an investigative type call, then you need to have the body cameras on, so I can’t say in this situation. I can say internally we’re looking at was policy and procedure followed,” Wilson said.
Automatic body cameras for law enforcement do exist, but they are pricier. Nash County currently spends around $20,000 a year on these cameras. Nash County does have the ability to go back about 30 seconds, even if their body camera isn’t recording.
“If I cut it on right now all I do is press this center part twice,” Wilson said. “Once I press it twice, it’s flashing red, and it’s actually recording 30 seconds prior to that was recording as well.”
Ramirez’ parents, Francisa and Jose Ramirez, sent CBS 17 the following statement:
Our son Jonathan was a wonderful young man. He had a fiancé and a great career in which he had worked for seven years. He had a promising future and was loved and respected by all in his community. There is no indication that Jonathan pointed a gun at anyone. He would not point a gun at law enforcement. After all, he was in the front yard of his own home. Two trucks and a Tahoe came barreling up into the yard. There were no blue lights. It was not obvious that they were law enforcement. We are devastated and grieving the loss of our son. We are trying to understand why these tragic events occurred.
The State Bureau is investigating the shooting. The three deputies involved are on administrative leave.