Montana police have released a graphic dashcam video of a Billings police officer sobbing after killing an unarmed man who was high on methamphetamine last April. The jury in a coroner’s inquest found the officer was justified in the shooting.
Billings Police Officer Grant Morrison killed Richard Ramirez, 38, in April 2014 after he thought he saw Ramirez reach for a gun. The victim was high on methamphetamine and riding in the backseat of a red sedan. The footage of their interaction and Morrison’s subsequent reaction was captured on the police car’s dashboard-mounted camera.
Morrison pulled the car over, then told the four occupants to put their hands up – a command he repeated seven times throughout the incident. He realized quickly that Ramirez, whom he had met at least once previously and who was suspected in a robbery and shooting the previous night, was one of the passengers.
“What are you doing? Why are you moving your hands so much?” Morrison says in the video. “Get your hands up. I will shoot you. I will shoot you. Hands up!”
The five-year police veteran then fires into the car, hitting Ramirez three times.
After the shooting, Morrison walks toward his vehicle before appearing to collapse just off-screen. He can be heard saying, “I thought he was going to pull a gun.”
Minutes later, another officer is seen attempting to comfort Morrison as he begins sobbing on the hood of the patrol car with his head in his hands.
Two bags containing a small amount of methamphetamine and a syringe were later found near where Ramirez had been sitting, News.com.au reported. The victim did not have any weapons, however.
During a two-day coroner’s inquest, Morrison related the events of the night.
“I shot him…I thought he was going to kill me,” he told the seven-member jury, the Billings Gazette reported.
“I was getting very scared,” Morrison said. “He pulled away from me, and he again did the exact same thing. He shoved his hand down to his side and started jiggling it up and down. I told him I was going to shoot him if he didn’t listen to me and put his hands up.”
The officer, who is now assigned as a prescription drug diversion task force officer and is working with the Drug Enforcement Administration, noted that he regretted killing Ramirez.