Recently, a video has emerged showing the very human emotion of one police officer after a traffic stop turned fatal.
On April 14, 2014, officer Grant Morrison of Billings, Montana, pulled over a vehicle driven by Richard Ramirez, 38, in an area of the city known to be high in violence. Morrison saw that Ramirez was under the influence of drugs — later determined to be methamphetamine — and within seconds of exiting the car, he reached for the waistband of his pants.
Video and audio from Morrison’s squad car shows that he repeatedly told the man to put his hands in the air. Ramirez disregarded the policeman’s warnings, and proceeded to reach for what the officer believed to be a weapon. Morrison drew his sidearm and fired at the man, killing him. The entire incident took less than 30 seconds, according to the footage.
After other officers responded to Morrison’s call into dispatch, he walked away and met a fellow policeman, Brad Ross, on the outskirts of the scene. Within a few steps, Grant lost his composure, and is seen falling down next to the police vehicle recording the situation. Officer Ross is heard telling Morrison, “I’ve got you, I’ve got you, man,” repeatedly as the man tries to catch his breath. Several minutes pass as Morrison is unable to stand due to his emotional reaction to killing Ramirez, who he discovered to be unarmed after firing.
Morrison is eventually able to stand once again, but immediately breaks down across the squad car and sobs as other concerned officers look on.
“I thought he was going to pull a gun on me,” he says through tears.
“Maybe he was, maybe he was. You survived,” Ross responds as he tries to comfort the man.
During the investigation into the incident, Morrison told authorities why he pulled his weapon and fired on Ramirez.
“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 day before his death, Robert Ramirez was named as a suspect in a drug-related robbery and shootings in another area of Billings. Morrison later stated that Ramirez being a suspect was a “huge contributing factor” in how he approached the traffic stop. According to an autopsy report, Ramirez had enough methamphetamine in his bloodstream at the time of the shooting to kill a person not accustomed to the drug. The man was very well-known to officers in Billings prior to the incident, as he had previously been investigated for drug-related crimes. Officers had been called upwards of 15 to 20 times to his residence.
The inquest into the death was held during the ever-increasing scrutiny of law enforcement across the country. Protests held in response to police killings in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City have kept police officers under a microscope, and the situation with Morrison and Ramirez was no different.
On Wednesday, a coroner’s inquest into the killing determined officer Morrison was justified in the shooting. A seven-person jury deliberated for just under an hour and delivered its decision. At this time, no charges are being filed against the officer.
Despite being acquitted of any wrong-doing, Ramirez’s family wants the criminal charges filed against Morrison, stating the half-Mexican Ramirez was a victim of racial profiling. They say they intend to file a lawsuit in the case.
Morrison has since returned to active duty.
After watching the emotional video footage of officer Morrison after the fatal traffic stop, do you feel any differently or more strongly about law enforcement in the United States?
[Image courtesy of KTVQ]