Officers involved in shooting believed they had to act
Updated On: Aug 01 2013 11:54:28 AM CDT
The Beloit police officers involved in a deadly shooting in June said they believed they or a citizen could have been killed if they didn't act.
A report from the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation on the shooting of 23-year-old Darrius Lowery-Baptiste includes interviews with the three officers involved in the shooting -- Sgt. Dan Tilley, Officer Brian Miller and Officer Seth Hendricks.
A video released with a report shows police boxing in a car, shouting commands to the driver and officers firing on the car.
Sgt. Tilley told investigators he was assisting with a surveillance operation on Lowery-Baptiste, who was wanted by the Department of Corrections for questioning and in connection with another Beloit case.
The surveillance led to a traffic stop where officers tried to box in Lowery-Baptiste's car near a downtown intersection.
Tilley said he and Miller drew guns on Lowery-Baptiste and shouted commands, but Lowery-Baptiste ignored them and tried to drive force his car out of the area it was boxed in and in the direction of Tilley.
Tilley said he fired three to four shots. Hendricks estimated that he fired eight shots.
The officers said they tried to help Lowery-Baptiste after he was shot and before paramedics arrived. He died at the scene.
The officers said they found a handgun and plastic bags of suspected crack cocaine, which they believed was in Lowery-Baptiste's possession.
Tilley told investigators he had never been in a position where he feared for his life like he did during the situation that led to the shooting. He said he believed that if he did not act, he or someone else would have been killed by Lowery-Baptiste.
Officer Hendricks said he feared for Tilley's life as well as the lives of citizens in the area. Officer Miller also said he feared for Tilley's life and believed Lowery-Baptiste would do whatever was necessary to flee, including running over Tilley.
Darrius' mom tells News 3 her son had turned his life around and was looking forward to spending time with his family from Mississippi. He had bought round trip tickets for his mom and 13 year old sister to come and visit him in Beloit.
The shooting happened a week after they arrived...now their vacation has turned to a search for answers.
His family says the video shows darrius feared for his life.
"He kept hollering at them don't shoot me, even though he maneuvered the car to get away, he couldn't get that far. They had other ways of apprehending him in my opinion," says Daphne Lowery, Darrius' Mother.
"The officer said my cousin asked them not to shoot him and that what really hurt me is because you knew what his thoughts were, and how he flt yall was coming to him and you did nothing but prove that point right," says Deon Lowery Darrius' Cousin. Deon says Darrius was like a brother to him, they were raised together and shared a bed. He was in school studying criminal justice but Darrius death has him rethinking his career path. He says he fears for his life.
"No one deserves to be gunned down in broad daylight in front of people no matter what they've done," says Deon Lowery.
"We want justice, they claim they got there's but I didn't get mine. So I'm out to get mine, I'm out to get justice for mine," says Daphne Lowery.
All three of the officers involved --- sergeant Dan Tilley, officer Brian Miller and officer Seth Hendricks -- are back on duty.
They said they tried to Revie Lowery Baptiste after the incident. You can hear voices on the video saying "stay with me the ambulance is coming."
Darrius' family continues to have fundraisers to pay off the remaining funeral bills and to explore the possibility of legal action. The next benefit is September 14th, 2pm At Riverside Park in Beloit.
The officers were cleared by the Rock County district attorney on July 3.
The Beloit Police Department said Tilley, 53, has 18 years of law enforcement experience; Miller, 44, has 14 years on the job and Hendricks, 26, has three years of service.
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