Dash came footage depicting the tragic death of 17-year-old Christian Redwine was recently released and it inspires the question, "Was this necessary?"
On Nov. 6, 2016 Redwine and his friends Hunter Tillis, 19, and Hannah Wuenschel, 18, led now former Officer Alan Brown on a high speed police chase in a car the teens stole from a family friend, reports the Ledger-Enquirer. Redwine eventually lost control of the vehicle and careened off the road, but apparently attempted to salvage the situation by backing up out of the ditch. Brown, who was at that point out of his police car, said that he interpreted this as an attempt to run him over and opened fire.
The officer fired 11 shots into the vehicle, two of which struck Redwine in the head and heart, killing the boy. Later in the recording of the incident, Brown says that it was at this point that he reloaded with a new magazine.
“No, stop! Please! I got shot! Please! Please! ” a wounded Wuenschel is heard screaming in the footage, but Brown turns his gun on the vehicle again, firing 10 more times.
"Oh, my god I'm shot! Please help, please! Please! Please!" Wuenschel cries after the second volley of bullets.
"Get down on the fucking ground now or I will fucking shoot you!" Brown yells back.
In total, the Ledger-Enquirer reported that Redwine was hit seven times, Wuenshel two or three times, and Tillis potentially more than twice. The passengers survived their wounds and now face felony charges for both autotheft and second-degree burglary after stolen items were found inside the vehicle. Redwine died at the scene.
The dashcam footage reveals a tense situation that, while the three teens were committing criminal acts, escalated to deadly violence quickly. While he initially acted out of fear, the fact that Brown reloaded and shot through a second magazine, even after the teens inside the vechicle were seriously wounded and afraid for their lives, indicates that the situation got as out of hand for him as it did for them when they chose to embark on their joy ride.
Despite this, a grand jury cleared Brown of any charges, though he has now resigned from the force.
Brown's reliance on his firearm, not as a final resort, but as an immediate response to an unconfirmed threat, resulted in the death of a boy and the wounding of two young people. The chase could have ended with everyone alive, perhaps in handcufs, but alive nonetheless with all the opportunities that presents. While not all victims of police shootings are innocent, it should go without saying that this does not mean that they deserve to die.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Flickr user Michael Gil