NEW ORLEANS — Intense video from police body cameras shows the final moments as NOPD officers shot and killed a man who was reportedly threatening suicide.
Thursday, the NOPD released edited versions of the video from four different officers who responded to the call in the 2300 block of Orleans Avenue in Treme around 10 p.m., on January 4.
One video shows the muzzle flash as Zonell Williams, 33, walks through a doorway of an apartment, firing on police. Officers returned fire, fatally wounding Williams.
While the investigation into the death is ongoing, Superintendent Michael Harrison said the footage strongly supported the officers' stance that their actions were justified.
"You can see the officers literally had a split second to make a decision on how they were going to respond and they did," Harrison said. "It began a matter of lifesaving to themselves and the citizens around them and involved in this incident.
Harrison added releasing the footage is part of the department's push for transparency -- particularly when it comes to lethal use of force by NOPD officers.
The videos also captured the moment Officer Mario Bravo realized he was shot. Bravo's body-cam showed him duck behind a parked motorcycle as he fired back at Williams. Bravo yelled "I've been shot" and "I've been hit" as he picked up the weapon Williams dropped on the ground.
Police say Bravo, a two-year veteran of the NOPD, was shot twice in the vest and sustained minor injuries.
Roughly 70 seconds lapsed between police arriving at the home and Williams collapsing to the ground.
Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office training center director and veteran hostage negotiator Jim Aery said the video shows how quickly things can escalate when police encounter mentally ill or desperate people.
"When somebody is that sick, that desperate, that angry they're unable to self regulate," Aery said. "They are unable to say to themselves hey, that would be dangerous, that would be against the law, that's not a good ting to do."
Aery added the shooting shows the inherent dangers of police work.
"We like to talk about de-escalation and crisis intervention and active listening, but unfortunately many times that's not appropriate," Aery said. "Officer safety is the first thing. We want our officers to go home to their families."
The NOPD released the names of the officers who responded to the call. They included Bravo, Sr. Officer April Augustine, Officer Steven Friedrich, Sr. Officer Darrius Mcfarland and Officer Duncan Chauffe. Augustine, Bravo and Mcfarland discharged their weapons.
Police confirm there were children in the home at the time of the shooting.
"Our officers put themselves in the line of fire, ran toward the fire rather than away from it and exhibited great, great courage in this incident, although it turned out to be a tragic incident," Harrison said.
The officers were reassigned to administrative duty after the shooting. They are expected back on the street as early as this week.