Sheriff: Deputy's body cam not working when he shot man
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — The body camera for a West Virginia deputy wasn’t working the day he shot and killed a man brandishing a knife, a sheriff says.
Monongalia County Sheriff Perry Palmer issued that statement in response to a request by The Dominion Post for body camera footage from the deputy who killed John Stewart Jr. on April 17.
Palmer said the deputy’s camera battery wasn’t charged at the start of his shift, and it stopped recording about two hours before he was dispatched to the domestic dispute call that ended in Stewart’s death.
The sheriff hasn’t publicly identified the deputy, saying it is the department’s policy to not name officers involved in shootings. Palmer said the Monongalia County grand jury has declined to indict the deputy.
The department’s bodycam policy says officers are responsible for inspecting and testing their cameras before every shift. They are advised to record all contact with citizens while in performance of their official duties. “NOTE: When in doubt, record it,” the policy states.
Punishment for policy violations ranges from a verbal warning to termination. The department conducted an internal investigation of the shooting, but Palmer wouldn’t say whether the deputy was punished.
The deputy was called to the scene of the shooting after Stewart’s sister called 911 saying her brother had threatened to stab her “and then the cops, if any cops come to get him,” according to a transcript obtained by the paper.
In a news release the following day, Palmer said Stewart had refused verbal commands and caused a confrontation, requiring the deputy to use pepper spray. It added that when Stewart pulled a knife, the deputy shot him.
Stewart’s father, John Stewart Sr., has said the deputy escalated the situation unnecessarily. He said his son’s death certificate states he was shot twice — in the heart and lungs.
The official medical examiner’s report and autopsy report are not complete, Palmer said.