by The Packet
The Columbus City Council and CPD Oversight Committee met Sunday evening to review body camera footage from Officer Jared Booth, who shot and killed Raymond Davis, 24, about 1 a.m. Saturday near the Premier Lounge. The council reviewed the footage at 4 p.m., the committee at 5 p.m. and a press conference was held at 6 p.m.
Davis had been in a dispute with his cousin a few moments before he was killed, and at least one shot had been fired. Booth apparently confronted him as he ran up 22nd Street South towards Main Street. Davis was holding the gun and Booth told him to drop the weapon. It is not clear what caused Booth to open fire.
A disturbance call about someone being hit with a bat outside the Premier Lounge at closing time is what got Booth dispatched to the popular club at the intersection of 22nd and College streets.
On his police body camera, Booth can be heard getting out of his car in the midst of a crowd of people leaving the bar and asking about someone with a bat or someone being hit with a bat. Within seconds, two shots ring out and the crowd, which included some cars in the street, began to panic.
Booth can be heard yelling at a person running who apparently has a gun, telling them to “Get down,” according to a copy of the audio and video overheard by The Packet. Booth repeats his orders at least twice and then what sound like 10 shots rings out.
The audio sounds like bedlam as Booth, who is the only officer on the scene at the time, yells into his police radio, “18, shots fired, shots.”
As he tries to get a handle on the situation and the pandemonium, he can be hard ordering people to get back and to get away from the shooting victim.
“Get the f— out of here, get the f— out of here,” he yells several times, trying to get the crowd to stay back.
“Get more officers here, shots fired, shots fired,” he yells into his microphone just a few seconds after the shooting.
“Need more units now, one down,” he says at another point.
“Back the f— away from him, stay away, stay back,” he says at another point to people approaching the victim.
“18, need an ambulance here immediately and more units here immediately,” he repeats to dispatchers.
It all happens within a matter of three minutes or so in real time. Members of the City Council and the Citizen Police Review Committee spent about 45 minutes reviewing it in both real time and slow motion and discussing the video during separate meetings Sunday afternoon. No action was taken at either meeting.
Raymond Davis, the 24-year-old shot by Booth, can clearly be seen holding a gun when he turns in response to Booth’s commands. But several citizen review committee members asked for the video to be slowed down so they could see it more clearly.
“He was staring down the barrel of a gun,” Police Chief Oscar Lewis said during another part of that committee’s discussion although Lewis nor other city leaders would provide many more official details pending a meeting Monday morning with the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation.
The city’s insurance carrier, Traveler’s, has said it may want to change the city’s liability policy to require a $225,000 payment up front for each future incident rather than the current $50,000 deductible because of the number of incidents the city has had involving police shootings and disciplinary issues.
Mayor Robert Smith and Lewis declined to give many details at the press conference.
“We have viewed the body camera footage of Officer Jared Booth in the shooting of Raymond Davis early Saturday morning,” Smith said. “Let me first say that this was a tragic incident that affects many people. No one wants a situation like this to occur, and my prayers go out to all who were involved. Officer Booth did activate his camera as he received a call for a disturbance at the Premier Lounge. He was attempting to break up a large disturbance when the shooting occurred. The entire incident was captured on body camera.
“It is early in the investigation and I am not allowed to go through the entire incident at this time,” he said. “I will say that the video shows Raymond Davis with a gun in his hand at the time of the shooting. The video is now part of the MBI investigation and experts will continue analysis of the incident. Once the investigation is complete it will be turned over to the Lowndes County District Attorney’s Office.”
Smith said that he, Lewis and City Attorney Jeff Turnage would meet with MBI Monday morning to see what else, if anything, could be released.
“It’s an unfortunate tragedy and I hate that it happened,” Lewis said. “I’m sorry for what happened and for the young man and his family right now, and the officer and his family as well. I’d like to keep them in our prayers right now, and ask for patience and calm as this investigation continues.”
The scene was turned over to MBI and CPD did not handle any evidence, said Captain Brent Swan.
“We turned the scene over to MBI,” he said. “Our investigators marked evidence but did not collect anything. The MBI came in and at that point we act as a liaison for them. We didn’t do any of the investigation part, we just stood back and let them handle it.”
Lewis said the he viewed this incident and an early disciplinary incident involving Booth as separate matters.
“The first incident has been addressed,” he said. “I think the evidence will show here that the officer acted accordingly.”
Lewis refused to say what kind of weapon was recovered at the scene, and he refused to elaborate on the timeline of when Booth arrived and other officers arrived.
Smith said the city will meet with the owner of the Premier Lounge Monday.
“We believe in fairness,” he said. “Hopefully they will cooperate with us. They will be closed until further notice because there are some things they need to do to come into compliance. There are a lot of things they can do to make it more safe down there, I will say that.”