Man Shot by Police Today While Onlookers Film in Beckley, WV

A friend of the eyewitness to a crazy police shooting that happened today in Beckley, West Virginia, sent me the footage captured via smartphone, while bystanders stuck in traffic watched it go down right in front of them. I already posted it on my twitter page, where it’s spreading quickly and obviously disturbing most people. I didn’t want to get in trouble again on Youtube, so I’m going to edit the version I post there, and then re-direct anyone who wants to see the entire thing to this post. So, here’s the footage:

Apparently there was a pursuit involving an unidentified subject, who is very clearly armed with what appears to be a handgun, and he is pointing it at his own head, as he walks quickly away from a small army of police officers pursuing him. He walks onto the public road, with bystanders in stopped traffic watching. It appears that the officers are ordering him repeatedly to drop the gun. It’s also obvious that he is in a bad place mentally, and is threatening suicide, or perhaps seeking “suicide by cop.”

Eventually, one or more officers start shooting the man. He drops the ground. Also dropping to the ground is the man’s handgun, which thereafter can be seen out of his reach, below where his feet are lying. What’s really disturbing here, is that the police officers’ guns continue to fire, and continue to impact the limp and incapacitated man lying motionless on the ground. The video then cuts off after a barrage of such shots. It’s unknown to me whether there were additional shots after the camera cuts out. I count at least 6 officers in the immediate vicinity, with more following behind them, as the first shots ring out. I tried to count the number of times they fired, but it seems impossible. It looks like the first two shots incapacitated the man and then the large majority of them came afterwards. In the video, you can see that the officers who are firing can see the handgun on the ground, because some of the rounds are hitting right where the gun is located on the ground. Perhaps they were still shooting at the gun? They keep shooting the man, as his body rolls over prone, with rounds hitting the asphalt all around him, as well as impacting his body, and apparently his legs.

I don’t think there’s much of an issue about the first shots fired. The case law is pretty clear that cops can shoot a suspect armed with a handgun, so long as he’s objectively viewed as an imminent threat. An officer may use deadly force when the officer has “probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a threat of serious physical harm, either to the officer or to others.” Tennessee v. Garner (1985). I looked closely, and can’t quite tell which hand is holding the handgun at the time the first shots are fired. It looks to be the right hand. And it’s also a close call whether the right hand, arguably holding the gun, rises towards the officer before, or after, the first shot. But it does start to come up.

However, the Fourth Amendment still prohibits law enforcement officers from using excessive or unreasonable force in the course of making an arrest or otherwise seizing a person, which includes shooting him. See Graham v. Connor (1989). The courts determine whether the amount of force used by police is reasonable based on an objective standard, looking at the the circumstances confronting the officer “immediately prior to and at the very moment” he fired his weapon. Greenidge v. Ruffin (4th Circ. 1991). Moreover, this is assessed specifically as of the “moment that force is employed,” Waterman v. Batton (4th Cir. 2005).

This took place in the jurisdiction of the Fourth Circuit, which has previously held that the number of shots fired by police, itself, is not dispositive, if other facts indicate reasonableness. See Elliott v. Leavitt (4th Circ. 1996). The Fourth Circuit has held a couple of times that “force justified at the beginning of an encounter is not justified even seconds later if the justification for the initial force has been eliminated.” See Brockington v.  Boykins (4th Circ. 2011). An officer will not be entitled to qualified immunity for engaging in a use of force that is “unnecessary, gratuitous, and disproportionate force to seize a secured, unarmed citizen….” Estate v. City of Martinsburg (4th Circ. 2020). Although the subject appears to have been armed at the time of the first shots, the video very clearly shows he was not armed for the majority of the shots. Thus, the courts could treat subsequent shots as against an unarmed subject. Of course there could be additional facts of which we’re unaware, such as information indicating to the shooters that another firearm was present.

I wonder if any of these officers were interviewed, or provided statements, immediately following the incident, while it was still fresh in their minds? Or will they be given the opportunity to sleep on it; to review video footage; to speak with union reps; to seek legal counsel; and to submit a written statement at a later time? Whatever the answer is to that – we peasants should be entitled to the same protections….

6 thoughts on “Man Shot by Police Today While Onlookers Film in Beckley, WV

  1. As soldiers in combat in Iraq, against an armed enemy, we had to exercise more restraint than these Gestapo thugs did. And in later years, we even had to call in to higher levels of command to get permission to engage before doing so. This video shows a high degree of unprofessionality and even outright fear by the cops.

  2. “Law EnFARCEment” Any time I begin to feel the SLIGHTEST sympathy for the lowest end of the “Judiciary”, I simply recall that 30 minute video culminating with 6 thugs in uniform beating a docile and unarmed Kelly Thomas to death. I’m happy to say I can now watch one burn alive and feel no remorse at watching the show. Did you catch the slugs so very anxious to be the first one to fire? Notice too how the porcine tyrants shot him enough to kill 10 people?
    The Central Bank Clan has successfully brought on the rot of this country and enslaved us at the same time.
    After the false-flag of 9/11 Dual citizen Michael Chertoff “suggested” their tools in D.C. not only create DHS, (their primary goal in life appears to be free transportation for unvaccinated/un-vetted illegals into the heart of this hole – Chertoff then “suggested” to same tools, to have Israel train cops here on how to deal with “domestic terrorists”… You can see now the results.

    “Spirit the penniless population across the frontier by denying it employment… Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly.” Theodore Herzl founder of the World Zionist Organization, speaking of the Arabs of Palestine, Complete Diaries, June 12, 1895 entry.

    • It’s time we take our country back. Law enforcement and our judicial system is an out of control corrupt business. We need to do some extermination.

  3. Wow! This is heartbreaking and a tough case. He was waving a gun around, and did, unintentionally I think, point it at the cops while walking away and waving his arms, and there were civilians in cars in close proximity, and there was a possibility that an innocent person or a cop could have been shot and killed, but I got the distinct impression that he was not intent on hurting anyone but himself, but he was certainly putting everyone in danger, so there’s that. But, at one point he does seems to hold the handgun with two fingers on the grip and pointing down, in a manner that would indicate he didn’t intend to use it against the cops, then puts it to his head and in his mouth, as if he’s going to commit suicide, and then stops and faces the cops. I’m not sure at this point if he just decided to commit suicide by cop, or if there might have been a chance to talk him down. I guess we’ll never know. The cops made sure he would not leave that roadside alive. I think it’s cop training to keep firing until the subject quits moving, and they certainly did even though the man was clearly incapacitated after the first shot. I doubt there will be any consequences for the cops, because the man was clearly putting people at risk, but I wish someone had begged him to stop and promised to help him, because he seemed as if he might give up. Thanks for the legal reasoning on this in the 4th circuit. This will be interesting to watch.

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