BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Police only released a few seconds of the body camera footage in the case of a man who was shot and killed by a Baltimore Police Department officer while he was holding two children at knife-point.
The department showed the footage to members of the press on Tuesday, but only some of the video will not be released publicly, according to BPD spokesman T.J. Smith, because it is too graphic.
WJZ’s Rick Ritter was among those media members present to view the body cam footage, and he described it as “beyond disturbing.”
Police stormed Fulton Avenue Friday morning in West Baltimore for a report of 39-year-old Reno Owens Jr. acting erratically.
The body cam video shows Owens Jr. barricaded in an upstairs bedroom with two children. The video shows Owens with a 6 inch blade to their throats. The two children were screaming and crying.
“Been in this business for 20 years and this was truly one of the toughest scenarios to watch unfold,” Smith said.
In still images, an officer is seen standing in the doorway with a flashlight in the room where they found Owens. What isn’t shown is a 1-year-old boy and 4-year-old girl screaming for help as Owens holds both in his arms and constantly waves the 12-inch knife to their throats and body.
“Hearing the young lady scream for her daddy, screaming in absolute fear, it was gut-wrenching to all of us as parents,” Smith said.
In the video Owens appears to be on drugs as officers try to negotiate with him. He shouted out at times; “get the father,” “hurry the f**k up.” He goes on to say “I am black Jesus,” “y’all could lose one kid, or y’all could lose two” and “I’m a real gangster.”
After about 25 minutes of video of negotiating inside, the video then shows a supervisor speaking to a SWAT officer outside the home. He tells him “Relax. I want you to be calm. Walk in there and kill this guy.”
That’s when the SWAT officer walks upstairs and quickly shoots Owens in the head, killing him.
Even after he’s shot, both of the kids and the knife had to be taken from him.
Baltimore PD Commissioner Kevin Davis said that “at no time did the suspect drop his knife, release the kids or comply. He was a deadly threat the entire time. If we missed it or didn’t kill him, he could’ve cut the throat of that little girl right in front of us.”
Police said officers had to shoot to stop, and didn’t shoot to kill.
The video later showed the 14-year SWAT veteran go upstairs, and quickly fire a shot at the Owen’s head. After the shot was fired, the kids were still on his lap, and the knife was still in the suspect’s hand.
“I’m tasked with making tough decisions and we believe this decision is in the best interest of the 1-year-old and 4-year-old victims,” Smith wrote in an email sent to media members Tuesday morning. “The gut-wrenching screams from these young children are not for public consumption. However, in our effort of transparency, we will allow the media to view/hear the Body Worn Camera footage, take notes, and then collect sound in the form of a press conference.”
Police are still investigating a motive behind this. Whether or not Owens was on drugs for sure is still being looked into. Police say the Baltimore Child Abuse Center is available to the family if needed.
Family said the children are not doing much better after the traumatic ordeal.
Before Owens was shot he said “I would rather go out like this.”
Police say at least seven body cameras were on scene and more than 900 officers are now wearing body cameras across the City.
Police tell WJZ the man involved was not the father of the children, but rather a homeless relative who had been allowed to spend the night in the home.