Kyron Hinton’s mother Vicki talks about abruptly leaving trial of Wake Sheriff’s Deputy Cameron Broadwell
Vicki Hinton abruptly fled the Wake County courtroom Thursday after viewing video of a deputy’s K-9 dog biting her son, later explaining, “My heart is broken for America.”
The video aired on a large screen as testimony in the felony assault trial against Wake County sheriff’s deputy Cameron Broadwell began its second day. Shot by a passing motorist, the footage showed 30-year-old Kyron Hinton standing in the middle of Raleigh Boulevard in the dark, waving his arms and shouting incoherently.
Hinton watched her son on the screen as a state trooper and Raleigh police formed a square around him in the street, apparently unresponsive to their questions. They are shown standing in calm stances several feet away, no guns drawn, until a deputy walks into the camera eye with a dog and announces, “Get on the ground now or you’re gonna get bit!”
Seconds after the dog is released, the video shows the deputy swinging at Hinton, who fell to the pavement and writhed and kicked as all the officers tried to subdue him. As it played, Hinton’s mother stormed out.
“My heart is broken, but for America,” said Hinton, 63, vowing to watch the rest of the trial. “My son. All sons.”
Kyron Hinton suffered bites and a broken orbital bone in the April 2018 altercation with officers, then died in February of unrelated causes. His mother has described him as suffering from both mental illness and drug and alcohol addiction. The day before he died, he received an $83,000 settlement from Wake County.
Four people have testified about passing Hinton on Raleigh Boulevard near Yonkers Road and calling 911 out of concern for Hinton’s safety. Two of those callers told dispatchers they thought he had a gun, but Highway Patrol Trooper Zachary Bumgardner said he arrived on the scene first and soon realized that Hinton was holding a cell phone in his hand rather than a weapon. Another officer testified he saw Hinton holding his exposed genitals in his other hand.
Hinton was talking “gibberish” and did not respond to his questions, so Bumgardner called a 10-18 on his radio, which stands for “urgent.” He testified Thursday that he believed Hinton was either on drugs or having some kind of mental episode, and that he wanted assistance.
“I’d almost describe it as speaking in tongues,” said Raleigh police officer A.E. McFeeters, who arrived on the scene shortly afterward.
Four Raleigh police officers arrived in all and formed a semicircle around Hinton. Bumgardner said he knew those officers had trained together and had received the 911 call, so he asked them what they had planned and they told him they were waiting.
“I didn’t think it was a bad idea,” Bumgardner said. “Given what I knew, I didn’t think there was a need for immediate action.”
McFeeters testified he thought Hinton would disregard officers’ commands and would have to be taken by force. He thought he and the others would wait until other officers arrived and maybe emergency medical workers could talk to him.
“Sometimes people don’t like our uniforms,” McFeeters said.
Broadwell arrived with the dog and gave three warnings. He did not speak to the trooper or officer first.
“He made a decision for himself as how best to proceed,” McFeeters said.
Hinton was not moving his feet and had not changed his behavior since the officers arrived. No guns were drawn but one officer had placed a Taser behind his belt.
It took about 10 to 15 seconds for Broadwell to release the dog after giving commands, Bumgardner said, and Hinton fell toward the trooper, who grabbed his foot. In the fracas that followed, he saw Hinton struck with a flashlight and a knee. McFeeters said he gave Hinton several “knee strikes” when he first tried to pry the dog’s jaw off his arm and again when he appeared to be reaching for an officer’s gun belt.
On cross-examination from Broadwell’s attorney Rick Gammon, Bumgardner said it happened quickly and in a fearful and adrenaline-filled environment. Hinton had not been searched and the K-9 deputy could not hear all the same radio traffic. Under questioning, Bumgardner said troopers do not carry the sort of needles or sedatives that were later used to pacify Hinton.
“You don’t carry nets around to put over people, do you?” Gammon asked.
McFeeters told Gammon he suspected Hinton had been taking PCP because of his abnormal strength and unintelligible speech.
But Candis Cox, who filmed the incident after calling 911, described the experience as traumatic.
“I felt as if it seems the man’s actions didn’t warrant the response from the police,” Cox said, adding, “This was just very difficult to watch. It’s hard to watch any person get hurt.”