Surveillance shows what happened when KCPD officers shot, killed man
Exclusive video obtained by KSHB 41 News shows the moments leading up to and the immediate aftermath of a police shooting Sunday night at a Kansas City, Missouri, gas station that left a man dead.
Some might find the video disturbing, but we're showing this video because we want to provide viewers will as much information as possible.
We are also blurring out the faces of the officers and witnesses to protect their identities as the Missouri State Highway Patrol investigates.
While the entire video is 47 seconds, it depicts how quickly police interactions can unfold and how each person involved is making split-second decisions.
On the night of the shooting, a spokesperson for MSHP - the lead investigating agency - said KCPD had eyes on a stolen SUV that was parked at a gas station near E. 55th Street and Prospect Avenue.
The man seen getting into the SUV was identified Tuesday as 31-year-old Zach Garrard . Police pulled up behind the SUV as soon as Garrard got in, a police car to the back left and a white police van to the back right.
Two officers got out of the police car and one officer got out of the van.
"They pull over and put lights on him," Adeem Syed, the gas station clerk, told KSHB 41 News. "They might have told him to stop or come out, but he didn't come out and he tried to run away."
We asked Michael Tabman, a retired FBI special agent with 27 years of law enforcement experience, to review the video. He's not involved in the investigation.
"It made it a basically a felony car stop, where they approach the individual, guns drawn, which is their discretion," Tabman said.
The video doesn't have audio, so we can't hear what the officers might have told Garrard. You see Garrard abruptly backs out and puts the SUV in drive, crashing into the police van and appearing to bump the officer next to the van.
Troopers say that's when two of the officers opened fire.
"Let's understand he's not being shot at because he stole the car. He's being shot at because of his actions while trying to be apprehended," Tabman said. "He's already shown a willingness to run over a police officer, run over someone else."
The SUV rolled to a stop and Garrard later died.
Tabman pointed out a part of the video where he says the officers could have approached the situation differently. It's the space behind the SUV.
"You want to come out in a tactically wise situation," Tabman said.
Tabman explained that the officers could have positioned their vehicles right behind Garrard to keep him from being able to back out so easily. He said the officers could have still taken cover behind the police vehicle or the vehicle door to give themselves distance and time.
"You want to avoid that situation, this is why we don't want things going mobile," Tabman said.
Tabman said because he thinks the vehicle was used as a weapon and posed a danger to the officers and other people, officers needed to control the situation.
"And the question will also come: 'But now he's fleeing, couldn't they just let him go and give him another day?' And the answer is no, that's not how the system works," Tabman said.
We also talked to a use-of-force expert with the ATF. They say these situations are viewed considering the totality of the circumstances known to the officer at the time he used force, and the question is not whether the officer could have done something different but was what he did reasonable.
Tabman said in this case, he thinks lethal force was reasonable.
"Once you're confronted with a life and death situation, you have to make a decision and I think in that situation they responded appropriately," Tabman said.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol is gathering information and working alongside the Jackson County prosecutor's office. The prosecuting attorney will review the case and decide if the officers acted within their right.