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Raleigh officer’s life was in danger when he fired at stolen vehicle, police chief says

Raleigh police bodycam video shows officers attempting to stop reportedly stolen vehicle

RPD bodycam video shows officers attempt to stop on Aug. 12, 2018 of a reportedly stolen vehicle. The driver reportedly turned the vehicle toward an officer and rapidly accelerated. Shots were fired at the vehicle but the driver was not hit.
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RPD bodycam video shows officers attempt to stop on Aug. 12, 2018 of a reportedly stolen vehicle. The driver reportedly turned the vehicle toward an officer and rapidly accelerated. Shots were fired at the vehicle but the driver was not hit.

Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown on Thursday made public a series of videos that show the moments when a uniformed officer fired his gun at a speeding car that had been reported stolen.

Deck-Brown released the videos after some Raleigh residents and community activists criticized the officer for firing at the car on a busy Southeast Raleigh Street.

According to a press release from Deck-Brown that accompanied the videos, Senior Officer J.C. Vucich thought that the driver of the car was attempting to hit him.

The press release states that at about 4:10 p.m. on Aug. 13, police Sgt. S.A. Brown spotted a GMC Terrain that had just been reported stolen traveling near Poole Road. Brown followed the GMC and radioed for assistance. Vucich responded to the call.

The GMC came to a stop behind a passenger van alongside a church at the intersection of Merrywood Drive and Rock Quarry Road.

The church hosts daily tutoring in math and science for at-risk children. Administrators there told The News & Observer last month that there were about 15 children inside the building the day of the shooting, and added that they were unaware of the traffic stop and subsequent gunfire.

According to Deck-Brown’s press release, after Vucich arrived, Brown activated his blue lights and got out of his patrol car to give commands to the driver of the GMC, who was later identified as Ronie Demitri Hyman.

As Vucich was getting out of his patrol car to assist with the traffic stop, Hyman turned his wheels to the left, accelerated rapidly and headed directly toward Vucich, according to the press release.

“Officer Vucich, believing that Mr. Hyman was attempting to strike him with the stolen vehicle, quickly backed away from the rapidly advancing vehicle, drew his weapon and fired two shots at the vehicle,” Deck-Brown said in the release.

The sequence of events recorded by Vucich’s body camera, unfolded over a roughly 16-second span. The footage shows the stolen vehicle appearing to speed toward the patrol car. Vucich’s driver’s door was still open after he quickly got out of the vehicle. The GMC appeared to be about three feet from the open patrol car door before it turned left. Hyman had already turned left when Vucich twice fired and yelled, “Shots fired! Shots fired! Go! Go! Go!”

A second video from the patrol car’s dash camera, shows Brown’s patrol car behind the stolen car. He was outside of the patrol car, with his gun drawn as he approached the GMC before it sped away.

Footage obtained by police from a nearby store shows two people running away from the shooting and a handful of people across the street in front of a strip of stores. In that footage the action appears to be taking place at least 100 yards away.

The officers ran to their cars and pursued the GMC before the chase ended on Western Boulevard near N.C. State University.

Police charged Hyman, 22, of Addison Street in Raleigh with vehicle theft, felony fleeing to elude police and failing to stop after a property-damage accident. He was also charged with reckless driving.

“As can be seen in the video links below, this sequence of events unfolded very rapidly,” Deck-Brown states in the press release. “Mr. Hyman, who was not struck by any rounds, fled the scene and Officer Vucich and Sgt. Brown pursued him.”

The case is being investigated by the Wake County District Attorney’s Office, which is standard policy in officer-involved shootings.

The police department’s internal affairs division is also conducting an administrative review of the shooting to determine if any departmental policies were violated, Deck-Brown said.

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