Fort Worth, TX – Police have released bodycam video of the fatal shooting last week of a kidnapper who had already shot his hostage and was using her as a human shield (video below).
Fort Worth police were notified by the Hill County Sheriff’s Office of a pursuit involving a white Toyota Prius that had crossed into Fort Worth on Interstate 35 just before 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 4, the Forth Worth Star-Telegram reported.
Dispatchers told responding officers that the chase started near Troy and that a man in the vehicle had a gun and a woman had called 911 for help, WFAA reported.
“Subject is armed with a handgun. Subject also has a passenger in the vehicle. The male has threatened to shoot the passenger,” dispatchers advised responding Fort Worth officers.
Fort Worth Chief of Police Neil Noakes said the suspect crashed his vehicle into a guardrail near the Spur 280 exit.
Dispatchers further advised officers that the hostage told them she had been shot in the stomach before her 911 call disconnected, KXAS reported.
Police heard another gunshot and responding officers approached the vehicle with their weapons drawn and ordered the occupants out, but they could not see inside the vehicle because of debris and deployed airbags, according to Chief Noakes.
Bodycam video showed officers used the collapsible batons to break the car’s windows to gain access to the kidnapper and attempt to rescue the hostage.
The video showed the hostage taker held a gun to his victim, and he was holding her across himself as a human shield.
Officers repeatedly ordered the kidnapper – later identified as 38-year-old J’Qunnton Hopson – to drop his weapon.
The hostage struggled to break free, but Hopson held firm, the video showed.
“Fearing the suspect would shoot the female hostage again, two FWPD officers fired their weapons, striking the suspect,” Chief Noakes explained in the video that accompanied the release of the bodycam.
The police chief said the hostage – 31-year-old Shaelan Hill of Austin – was rushed to a nearby hospital and pronounced dead, KXAS reported.
Her killer, Hopson, was pronounced dead at the scene.
After the incident, police reviewed bodycam footage and could see that when officers shot Hopson, the gun he was holding to Hill was jammed and didn’t have a magazine in it, KXAS reported.
Chief Noakes told reporters that the position of the bodycam gives a different view from what officers actually saw at the scene and police didn’t know at the time of the shooting that the gun was disabled, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
“It’s important to remember that our officers were faced with a hostage situation involving a man holding a gun against a woman that he had already shot, causing life-threatening injuries, who was refusing to comply with orders,” the police chief said.
He said the results of the investigation of the officer-involved shooting would be turned over to the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office and grand jury for review, WFAA reported.
Authorities have not yet said whether Hill knew Hopson before she was kidnapped, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Dr. Alex Del Carmen, associate dean and criminologist at Tarleton State University, told WFAA that the officers’ actions appeared justified.
“So far, I haven’t seen anything on this video that raises concern on my end as to what the officers were trying to do in a very difficult situation,” Del Carmen said. “What is clear is the fact that the officers perceived there was a viable real threat.”
“Every second counts,” Del Carmen continued. “The other option would’ve been to allow the individual to stay barricaded in the vehicle and bring a negotiator, but that would’ve taken time, and in this type of situation, time is of the essence.”
Watch the incident unfold in the video below. WARNING – Graphic Content: