A video has emerged online showing a Montana police officer breaking down in tears and comforted by colleagues, after fatally shooting an unarmed man allegedly high on methamphetamine during a traffic stop last April.
Police Officer Grant Morrison pulled over a car in which 38-year-old Richard Ramirez was riding and shot him in an incident that lasted only 30 seconds.
Ramirez, a suspect in recent drug-related shootings, was reportedly high on methamphetamine at the time he was shot. He disobeyed Officer Morrison’s loud orders that he and others sitting with him in the car should raise their hands. Instead of raising his hands, he reportedly reached for his pocket or waistband.
Footage of the shooting, which happened in a high-crime district of Billings in Montana, was posted online after a seven-person jury cleared Morrison of wrongdoing. The jury deliberated for an hour after seeing the dash cam video Tuesday before reaching a decision Wednesday.
The dash cam video shows Morrison approaching the car and shouting “hands up!” repeatedly before firing about three times and killing Ramirez.
Morrison breaks down in tears after the shooting. The video shows him sitting between two colleagues who try to comfort him as he sobs.
“I thought he was gonna pull a gun on me,” the officer said sobbing
A fellow officer consoles him, saying, “Maybe he was, maybe he was. Jesus, Grant. You survived.”
Morrison told the jury he opened fire because he feared for his life. He said he shot into the car because he thought Ramirez was reaching for a gun in his waistband.
Before he opened fire, Morrison reportedly recognized Ramirez as the suspect in a previous shooting where some methamphetamine was recovered. Two officers testified that Morrison was aware Ramirez was wanted as a suspect in several shootings. He was also aware that Ramirez was a methamphetamine user which reportedly makes suspects violent.
“I knew in that moment, which later was determined to be untrue, but I knew in that moment that he was reaching for a gun. I couldn’t take that risk. I wanted to see my son grow up.”
The Daily Mail reports that Detective Brett Kruger, who investigated the shooting and testified before the jury, said two cellophane bags of methamphetamine and a syringe were found near Ramirez in the backseat of the car where he sat.
According Kruger, Ramirez was not reaching for a gun. He was apparently trying to remove the drugs from his pocket when he was shot. Two other people in the car testified that Morrison repeatedly issued commands for them to raise their hands.
Billings Police Chief Rich St. John, confirmed that Morrison was also the officer who shot and killed drug suspect Jason James Shaw in February 2013. Investigations confirmed that the suspect was reaching for a BB gun when Morrison shot and killed him.
Members of Ramirez’s family have accused police of racial profiling in the case of Ramirez, who is half-Mexican. Ramirez’s sister, Julie, accused police of excessive use of force.
“He could have tased my brother or called for backup. When Officer Morrison got out of that patrol car he knew he was going to kill my brother.”
According to members of the family, police deliberately used Ramirez’s history of drug use to justify his killing.
[Images: via Daily Mail]