Birmingham, AL – Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin clashed with Black Lives Matter over the officer-involved shooting of an armed suspect who shot at police, prompting the activist organization to demand his resignation because he refused to support their false narrative about the shooting (video below).
The incident occurred just before 11 p.m. on April 4 when Birmingham police officers responded to a 911 call about a domestic disturbance in a vehicle the 200-block of Ninth Avenue West, AL.com reported.
Officers attempted to stop the car but the driver – later identified as 28-year-old Desmon Montez Ray Jr. – refused and fled.
A moment later, Ray crashed into a fence in an alley, AL.com reported.
Bodycam video showed the officer on the passenger side of the police vehicle jumped out as soon as the vehicle stopped.
Seconds later, Ray fired a shot at the officer, the video showed.
The officer returned fire 2. 6 seconds later and Ray fell to the ground, AL.com reported.
But Ray continued to try to get up and refused to follow officers’ commands to stop moving and to put his hands over his head, the bodycam shoed.
The video showed the officer’s partner took control of the scene once Ray was down.
The officer called for medics to be on standby as he tried to clear the scene so they could enter safely – but he was unable to see where the gun had landed and couldn’t tell if it was in the suspect’s hand, the video showed.
Additional officers arrived on the scene and when they approached Ray from the opposite direction, they easily spotted the gun on the ground by the gate.
The handgun had been within reach of Ray the entire time he’d continued to move after he was shot, the video showed.
Police handcuffed the suspect and then transported him by ambulance to University of Alabama-Birmingham Hospital where he was pronounced dead, AL.com reported.
Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith released bodycam video from two officers on the scene and Ring doorbell video that had captured part of the chase.
Chief Smith said he was releasing the videos to clear up misinformation that had been circulating about the shooting, AL.com reported.
“Initially when officers responded to the scene, the officers were of the mindset that he was firing at them. Also, they wanted to check on the well-being of the individual inside the car,’’ Chief Smith said. “They wanted to make sure that everyone who could have been hit by that gunfire at that time was taken care of.”
Ray’s family members were shown the bodycam videos a week before they were released to the public and told the media afterwards that it wasn’t clear that Ray had shot at police.
They also complained that Birmingham police officers had failed to render aid to Ray after they shot him, AL.com reported.
Ray’s family called for all of the video to be released and for the officers involved to be criminally charged, and Black Lives Matter jumped on board and called for the resignation of the mayor and the police chief.
But the mayor said during a press conference on Tuesday that he had no intention of resigning and called out those who would paint Ray’s shooting with a false narrative, AL.com reported.
“The sentiment I have every day when I wake up, and I know the chief of police shares the same sentiment, when our police officers interact with citizens and our citizens interact with Birmingham police officer, we want everyone to go home safe,’’ Woodfin told reporters.
“The citizen and the police,” he continued. “In this situation on that night, unfortunately that did not happen.”
The mayor sent condolences to Ray’s family but sought to clarify what had happened in Birmingham, AL.com reported.
“But I also want to state there are real issues in America right now. These issues have persisted for quite some time where unarmed Black men have been shot by white officers,’’ he said.
“I want to make myself very clear – this is not one of those instances and this is not the case,” Woodfin said definitively.
The officer who fatally shot Ray has been placed on paid administrative leave while the incident is investigated, as is protocol for all officer-involved shootings, AL.com reported.
The Alabama State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) is heading up the investigation into the shooting.
SBI investigators will forward their investigative report to the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, which will make a determination about whether the shooting was justified, AL.com reported.
Watch the incident unfold in the video below. WARNING – Graphic Content: