OUR VIEW: LaGrange Police Department released shooting video quickly, shows others how it should be done
Published 9:30 am Saturday, October 2, 2021
Tuesday morning, an officer with the LaGrange Police Department shot a machete-wielding man who refused to drop his weapon despite being asked numerous times to do so. In every officer involved shooting, the Georgia Bureau of Investigations is brought in, which often times creates more questions than answers given the scarceness of information released to the public as they conduct their investigation.
Police officers, fair or not, have been under more scrutiny in these types of situations than ever before over the last few years, with race playing a factor in many cases around the country.
It often takes days, weeks, months — and yes, even years — in some instances for bodycam and dashcam footage to be released in cases like this. Sometimes the footage is never released.
The LaGrange Police Department isn’t your normal police department, however.
The LPD released footage from the incident Wednesday evening that clearly showed multiple attempts where officers made contact with the suspect, Ronald McCormick. The suspect was asked to drop a machete he was carrying around downtown numerous times.
It’s not clear which officer is speaking at the start of the video but what is clear is that he immediately tried to calmly deescalate the situation.
“I just want to talk to you and let you know we got a call, so can I talk to you for a minute?” the first officer to respond says. “Can you put the machete down and walk over here to me? I’m not going to take it, I don’t want it. I just wanted to talk to you.”
Officers then find out that McCormick has warrants, and he walks away. Eventually, they locate him on Hill Street, and he runs.
“Drop the machete sir,” an officer says after McCormick is located. “You’re going to get shot.”
McCormick then yells, “I don’t give a [expletive],” and appears to raise the machete.
It’s dark, the video is grainy, but it’s clear McCormick is moving toward officers with the machete in hand.
An alternate angle shows the officer backing away from the suspect as he first tries his Taser, which LPD said failed.
The officer then fires his handgun, striking McCormick and causing him to fall to the ground.
David Horsemen was identified as the LPD officer who shot McCormick, per a press release from the department. After McCormick was shot, offices on the scene immediately began to treat his wounds while waiting in EMS to arrive. McCormick is currently being treated for his injuries at a nearby hospital.
We only know all of this because the LPD released all of the footage from this shooting and has been forthcoming about everything that happened. Of course, that’s always the case with the LPD and Chief of Police Lou Dekmar.
We think it’s important to note this video was released without any protests, court orders, or freedom of information requests (at least from this newspaper).
While the video and audio released doesn’t tell or portray every single piece of evidence in this case, releasing it was the right thing to do, as it gives the public a better idea of what took place and led to McCormick being Tased and shot.
When incidents like this happen, we will always advocate for the audio and video of the incident be quickly released to the public so the people of LaGrange and Troup County, and the world, can access for themselves what happened, and why, but in many cases across the country, that’s not what happens.
Just last week, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled against the release of police footage in a Huntsville officer-involved shooting.
According to AL.com, Tom Parker, the chief justice of the court, was the only justice in favor of releasing the video and wrote that for all purposes in Alabama the statute might as well be known as the “Closed Records Act.”
That’s a terrible precedent to set, one that completely blinds the public from what happens in situations where an officer uses his weapon to shoot someone. We can’t understand how anyone believes that’s a good thing, or how it furthers the public’s right to know.
Thankfully, that’s not what happened here.
Releasing the video answered many questions and allowed the public to see what took place. In our view, that’s the purpose of wearing bodycams and having dashcams — to hold those who have the responsibility and authority for policing our community accountable, but also to protect our officers against false accusations and the “virtual mob” from convicting them without any evidence to do so.