Sacramento, CA — On a fateful September day back in 2017, Kristopher Velez, an honorably discharged veteran of the US Army, missed a court date for a misdemeanor offense. Hours later, this veteran, who was in a confused and mentally ill state from his PTSD, would be shot four times by a Sacramento cop.
As part of a lawsuit against his aggressors, Velez settled this week for $3.25 million, and body camera footage of Velez’s near-execution was released. It is nothing short of trigger happy cop unloading on a confused but compliant man.
According to the report, Velez missed his court date and bail bondsmen as well as Sacramento police responded to his home — over a misdemeanor. Velez, who suffers from PTSD due to his tours in Iraq, retreated to his bathroom with a gun, resulting in a standoff.
As the body camera footage below shows, Velez was calm but still holding a gun. Sacramento police officer John Harshbarger can be heard talking to the troubled vet in a calm demeanor. Harshbarger calmly asks Velez to put down the gun and he complies. It appears to be a successfully resolved matter. Then, without warning, Harshbarger opens fire, squeezing off four rounds, all of which hit Velez.
“The sergeant calmly interacted with Velez and reassured him that he could safely come out of the bathroom and put down the gun and that no one was going to hurt him,” the lawsuit said. “After some time, Velez came out of the bathroom and, after accepting the sergeant’s reassurances, put his handgun down on the floor, at which time he was immediately shot by Harshbarger.”
Despite the body camera footage showing Velez put the gun down, police claimed Velez “refused” to do so, thereby justifying the use of deadly force.
“After several minutes of dialogue, the suspect opened the door of the bathroom and could be seen by officers holding a handgun and manipulating it with both hands. Multiple commands were given throughout the incident for the suspect to drop the gun and surrender. During the incident, the suspect refused to comply with the officer’s commands and displayed the gun in the direction of the officers,” the police statement said at the time.
Velez was shot in his chest, arm, shoulder, and leg and somehow miraculously survived. However, he is now physically disabled and still requires additional surgeries, according to the lawsuit as reported by the Sacramento Bee.
Adding to the suspect nature of the shooting was the fact that Harshbarger turned off the audio on his body camera less than two minutes after pulling the trigger, while he talks to other cops in the room.
Harshbarger was never disciplined for the shooting and remains on the force, according to the Bee.
Illustrating the futility of the American system of law enforcement is the fact that the massive police presence at Velez’s home that day, which left a mentally ill veteran with bullet holes in his body, did not result in any charges against Velez.
Outside of Velez bearing the brunt of this mishap, the taxpayers of Sacramento will now pony up over $3 million.
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