Police bodycam video released of incident where mom claims weapons pointed at young son
The Raleigh Police Department released body camera video on Friday that it says does not support a mother’s claim that officers pointed a gun at her 6-year-old son.
The woman, LaDonna Clark, made the assertion during a recent Raleigh City Council meeting.
“While we understand and respect that this was a difficult and challenging situation for the Clark family, the members of the Raleigh Police Department carried out their difficult and dangerous police responsibilities professionally, with respect, and in accordance with law and policies,” according to a statement from the Police Department released on Friday.
Multiple videos were released, including a more than 40-minute video edited from the others that reportedly show what happened the night of the incident. The Police Department, acting on a request from Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown, got a court order to release the footage.
“The video and investigation do not support Ms. LaDonna Clark’s allegations that her family had rifles pointed at them or that they were made to sit outside for over an hour,” according to the police statement.
In a press conference Friday afternoon, Clark said she believes there is more footage that has not been released and that officers turned off their cameras during part of the incident.
The Police Department released all the available footage and no officers turned off their cameras, said Donna-maria Harris, spokeswoman for the Raleigh Police Department. There were some officers who hadn’t been issued body cameras, she said.
“On a 35-degree and rainy night, my son with autism was forced out of a home with military-style rifles aimed at him and made to sit on the cold, wet ground for well over an hour by [the police] SWAT [team],” Clark said during the Feb. 5 Raleigh City Council meeting.
At about 10 minutes into the edited, 40-minute video released Friday, words on the screen say Clark’s 6-year-old son and the child’s grandmother exit the home. The video shows an officer moving toward a vehicle, and the view of the two leaving is obscured for about three minutes.
Footage from a different police officer at a different angle at the same time period shows someone near the house. Words on the screen say “(Wanda) Clark initially comes out of the residence, then goes back in to assist their grandson,” around the 28-minute mark.
An officer is holding a rifle in the video, but does not appear to be pointing it at the home or at anyone.
“He’s scared,” one officer says in the video.
“Yeah,” replies another.
At the 30-minute mark, someone can be seen near the house but the view, like much of the video, is dark and obstructed.
At the 33-minute mark, the officer who had been holding the rifle now points it at the house and begins approaching the house. He or another officer says no one is inside and officers go from room to room with weapons drawn.
In an email response to questions from The News & Observer on Friday, the Police Department declined to say how many officers and vehicles responded to the scene on the night in question, citing state law that protects details of security planning from disclosure.
Decisions about when to deploy the department’s Selective Enforcement Unit when search warrants are being executed are made on a case-by-case basis, but it is routine “if there is information about possible weapons or other dangerous situations,” the email said.
Officers had a warrant to search the home on Friar Tuck Road on Nov. 14 in connection with an armed robbery at an AT&T store a few days earlier. A cardboard box left by one of the suspects had the address of the home on it, according to a search warrant.
The suspect, Brian Clark, is a relative of the Clark family, but police knew he wasn’t living at the home at the time, LaDonna Clark said before the February meeting.
The incident was under investigation, according to a statement released by Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown after the February meeting.
“The safety and well-being of all Raleigh residents is a top priority for the Raleigh Police Department,” she said in the statement. “The incident has been, and is still being reviewed by the Raleigh Police Department Office of Professional Standards.”
This is a developing story and will be updated.