Body camera could have given answers in fatal police shooting

KSLA Investigates | Deadly Officer Involved Shooting

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) -Earlier this month, Shreveport police officer Treveion Brooks made the split second, life and death decision police hope that they never have to make.

Officer Brooks drew his service weapon, fired and killed a suspect, after that man, 31-year-old Anthony Childs, allegedly shot at Brooks, according to department officials.

Pursuant to departmental policy, Brooks, who joined the Shreveport Police Department in August of 2017, was placed on paid administrative leave, while the officer involved shooting is investigated.

But a little more than two weeks into that inquiry, several questions remain unanswered.

First, why did Childs allegedly run from Officer Brooks?

According to SPD officials, Brooks was patrolling near the Shreveport Regional Airport, when he approached the intersection of Kennedy Drive and Hollywood Avenue. Department officials say that Childs took off running when he saw Brooks’ marked police unit, and when Brooks pursued, Childs allegedly flashed a gun.

After ignoring commands to drop the weapon, police say Childs fired at least one shot, and Officer Brooks returned fire, hitting and killing him.

While police say a weapon was found at the scene, investigators have not mentioned whether any illegal contraband was recovered, or whether Childs was wanted in connection to any unrelated criminal investigation.

The more pressing question, however, is whether Officer Brooks was justified in using deadly force during the confrontation with Childs.

Through a public records request, KSLA Investigates learned that Brooks’ police unit was equipped with a dash camera, however he was not assigned a body camera.

Dr. George Kirkham, a police officer and retired Florida State University criminology professor, says that fact could seriously limit answers about the fatal shooting.

“Body cameras tell a story that goes beyond what the dash camera records,” Kirkham told KSLA Investigates.

“It’s more important than any other item of equipment that I can think of in a police agency,” said Kirkham. “The technology is there. The cost is reasonable. There’s really no excuse for every agency not having and using them.”

While body cameras are utilized by Shreveport Police, only 54 officers have them.

According to a department spokesperson, officers are assigned body cameras based on “who completes most of their tour of duty interacting with the public away from a vehicle.”

Dr. Kirkham says that number is far too small.

“They completely remove the question of he said she said,” Kirkham said. “It’s candid camera in a police department. In a case like this, it really could tell what happened.”

Kirkham says body cameras do more than serve as a deterrent against police violating a suspect’s rights, they can protect officers from public doubt and prosecution.

He says the Brooks case is a perfect example. That’s because through a public records request, KSLA obtained police records showing Brooks was already under internal affairs review before the fatal shooting of Anthony Childs.

According to Brooks’ file, this past December he got into an accident while his driver’s license was suspended. Then in January, a suspect Brooks arrested complained he used unnecessary force.

Both matters are still under internal review. Kirkham says if this shooting gets in front of a grand jury, they might consider these incidents when examining Brooks’ experience as an officer and making their decision whether to indict him in the fatal shooting of Childs.

“They’ll look at all those things, or should, and try to determine what happened here,” Kirkham said.

However, he says there would be far fewer questions, for investigators and Brooks to answer if he had been assigned a body camera.

“We do Monday morning quarterback our police officers,” Kirkham said. “There’s nothing more serious, a bullet cannot be recalled. And a decision to use that force, sometimes there is no choice.”

Copyright 2019 KSLA. All rights reserved.