Rock Island County, Illinois, State’s Attorney Dora Villarreal ruled on Wednesday that the four Rock Island police officers involved in the April 1 fatal shooting of suspect DeShawn Tatum, 25, will not face criminal charges.
The officers, Paul Scully, Zachary Costas, Andrew Lawler and Jacob Waddle, were placed on administrative leave following the incident, according to a report in the Quad-City Times.
The story began with a social media video posted on March 31, that showed Tatum brandishing a pistol and making threats against law enforcement.
A quick check revealed that Tatum was wanted on felony charges.
WARNING: The following videos contain vulgar language and graphic imagery that some viewers will find offensive.
At approximately 6 p.m. on April 1, Scully spotted Tatum at a cemetery and officers Lawler and Costas moved toward him. Tatum fled, and dropped a backpack that contained “a Glock 9mm-17 round capacity magazine, two live 9mm Luger cartridges, one 50-round Luger 9mm box of ammunition; six sealed bags each containing suspected marijuana; and one orange medication bottle containing various unidentified pills,” according to Villarreal’s report.
A foot chase through the cemetery ensued. Tatum reportedly threw an item into a dumpster, which the police later learned was a loaded Glock 9mm with an extended magazine.
He ran to a gas station and the video showed him pushing a woman out of his way and entering the car. According to the report, the car belonged to the owner of the gas station. The woman was an employee thinking about purchasing the vehicle. She recognized Tatum, who apparently “asked in a panicked voice if he could borrow her car,” and pushed her aside when she said it wasn’t hers.
Almost as soon as Tatum got into the car, a police SUV pulled around it preventing Tatum from moving forward.
Two officers opened doors on either side of the suspect’s car and Tatum reportedly tried to grab one of the officer’s guns. He then threw the car into reverse, dragging officers Waddle and Scully, until he smashed the vehicle into the building.
Waddle and Scully emerged from under the car, miraculously unscathed, and all four officers surrounded the vehicle and order Tatum to give up his gun and get out. At that time, they were unaware that he had thrown his gun into the dumpster. Lawler and Scully opened fire.
Villarreal released footage from the body cameras of the four officers and footage from the gas station’s surveillance camera, along with the social media post mentioned above.
The dramatic video of the incident can be viewed below. It shows footage from all of the officer’s body cameras, as well as the gas station cameras.
Villarreal’s ruling stated, “After reviewing all of the video and audio of the officers who were at the scene, along with the surveillance footage from the Chicken Shack (the gas station), it is clear that although Tatum dropped the gun he had during the foot pursuit, he used a stolen vehicle as a weapon to drag and injure several officers and also attempted to disarm another during the collision into the Chicken Shack. After the white car collided with the wall and stopped, Tatum remained an imminent threat to all of the officers at the scene since the car was still running.”
Following Villarreal’s ruling, the Times noted that Rock Island Fifth Ward Alderman Dylan Parker “called for the effectiveness of foot pursuits to be evaluated.”
“While the attention, today, is an exoneration of the police’s behavior, I challenge city staff, my colleagues on City Council and members of the general public to consider why Mr. Tatum and members of the Rock Island Police Department were put in that situation in the first place.”
Parker may want to consider the common thread in most, if not all, police-involved shootings: The suspects are resisting arrest.
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