BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Baton Rouge Police Department released two videos from a controversial officer-involved shooting on August 7. Police arrested Raheem Howard, 24, whom they say shot at Officer Yuseff Hamadeh after being pulled over for a missing license plate. Police say Hamadeh returned fire after being shot at.
However, the suspect says he did not have a weapon and did not fire any shots.
The video, released Wednesday, includes audio from the officer’s rear camera in his patrol car, as well as video recorded by what police called a “concerned citizen.”
Below are some excerpts from the audio captured in the officer’s rear dash video:
Unidentified officer #1: Yuseff?
Unidentified officer #2: His car is on 16th.
Unidentified officer #1: I heard you... calm down. Where you at?
Yuseff: I’m on 16th... I think he ran around the back of the house.
Yuseff: The subject is armed.
Unidentified officer: Where are you at?
Yuseff: Find this [unintelligible]. He shot a firearm. He shot one round at me.
Unidentified officer #1: It’s fine, but is your car is on 16th? That’s the confusion here.
Yuseff: I get that.
Unidentified officer #2: Hey, I’m going to go ahead and make a perimeter.
Unidentified officer: They exchanged gunfire. We need to go ahead and get whoever in route for that. We don’t know if he’s hit or not, but we do have this area contained, but we need to all get on first dispatch.
Howard’s attorney, Ron Haley, says he has more questions now that this footage has been released. “From the audio, it appeared that it was just a chase and then you hear a shot fired, I don’t know, maybe 40 seconds into the clip,” said Haley.
Haley says he’s more concerned about what is not heard on the audio. At no can point any verbal warnings or commands from the officer be heard. “We didn’t hear any of that and I think that lends to more questions and I want to know why we don’t have that information,” said Haley.
He also claims the officer put his client in unnecessary danger by repeatedly telling other officers Howard had shot at him.
“You can see that it clearly is daylight outside,” said Haley. “You know good and well if somebody has a gun and whether someone fired at him.”
Haley says the new evidence points to what he considers a major transparency issue within the department. In this case, neither Officer Hamadeh’s body camera nor his front dash cam were on at the time. The back dash cam was on, but was pointed down during the encounter. “All of these things goes to show that we have a transparency problem with our police department,” said Haley. “There’s so much more that the community needs to know in regards to what happened. Yeah, it’s nice that we released it, but that information doesn’t tell us anything.”
East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore declined to prosecute Howard, saying there was not sufficient evidence that he had fired a weapon.
Howard’s attorney, Ron Haley, released the following statement in response to BRPD’s release of the audio/video:
"The audio and video released confirms what our client and brave members of the community have maintained to be the truth. That there was only one shot fired. And given that Officer Hamadeh admitted to firing his weapon the gun fire had to come from him.
However, the release of the audio still leaves questions to be answered. Why didn’t the audio pick up the initial interaction between Mr. Howard and Officer Hamadeh? Did he give any verbal commands or was this just chase and shoot? What were the other responding officers' statements regarding the shooting? It was clear that there was one gun fired. Did they also participate in the pushing of this narrative that my client fired at Officer Hamadeh or did they tell the truth?
What is troubling is that Officer Hamadeh put our client’s life in further harm after shooting at him by misrepresenting to the other officers while they were hunting for him that he was armed when in fact he was not."