Newly released dash cam video showed how a scuffle between a state trooper and someone he had just pulled over ended with gunfire.
Officials with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol have already said that Trooper Caleb Swickey shot the suspect in self-defense. Tuesday they made public a video recording of the confrontation, which occurred in Guthrie on Jan. 4.
The dash cam video documented a traffic stop that started routinely enough with Trooper Swickey issuing 18-year-old Kenneth Brown a warning for driving without headlights. It was shortly before 10 p.m.
After that, the mood clearly changed, as Brown seemed impatient and the trooper picked up on it.
"Are you nervous about anything?" Trooper Swickey asked the man.
"No," Brown replied.
"All right. You ain't got no weapons or nothing like that up there?" Swickey asked. "Marijuana? Cocaine? Hash?"
"No," said Brown, laughing.
But the trooper wasn't convinced and decided to press a bit more.
"Hey, jump out for me real quick," Swickey said in the recording. "I am just going to pat you down and make sure you ain't got no weapons or nothing on you."
Brown made a mild protest. "I don't see why this has to happen."
Trooper Swickey replied. "Like I say, man, you are real nervous. You're shaking over there, your voice is quivering a little over there. I mean, you are giving off a lot of signs of nervousness."
The dash cam video then showed Brown emptying his pockets, as the trooper has asked him to do, but he was not fully compliant, and appeared as if he was trying to keep the trooper from seeing something.
"Is that just your belt?" Swickey asked.
As he uttered those words, Swickey recognized that Brown was carrying a pistol in his waistband, and immediately pulled Brown's hands behind him to handcuff him.
The video showed Brown then try to spin away from the trooper, but Swickey held on, and together they spun out of view of the dash cam. Almost instantly, two shots rang out.
The rest of the encounter occurred out of view of the camera, but the tension remained audible.
"Don't move. Turn around," Swickey commanded. "Don't move."
The recording indicated that Brown was crying, as Swickey called in on his radio. "Shots fired...Start EMS," he said.
Another officer arrived within a few minutes and could be heard asking Trooper Swickey about the confrontation.
"Did he pull a weapon on you?" asked the officer. Trooper Swickey said that Brown did.
Back in front of the camera, the trooper examined Brown's handgun and it became clear that the gun was fully loaded, with a round in the chamber.
Brown remained hospitalized in critical condition as of Tuesday evening. He was also a suspect in an armed robbery last month in Alva.
Gary James, General Counsel for the Oklahoma State Trooper Association, released this statement today:
"This is the kind of incident that law enforcement faces daily, across the country.
Thankfully, this incident took place in front of cameras to avoid any negative controversy law enforcement is having to deal with in their daily duties.
Due to such controversy, Trooper Caleb Swickey made sure to conduct his pat down search in front his vehicle so it would be documented by the dash camera in his patrol car.
If not for Swickey's training and abilities we may have had a different outcome.”