Transcript and video: Chief Tammy Hooper speaks after officer-involved shooting
ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- On July 2, Jai Williams, 35, also known as Jerry, was shot and killed Saturday at Deaverview Apartments by Sgt. Tyler Radford.
Asheville's chief of police, Tammy Hooper, spoke with News 13 on July 5, following the shooting.
"There was a short struggle between the front female passenger and the front male passenger. She eventually got out of the car. He grabbed an AR-15 and the officer used deadly force against him," Chief Hooper said in part. "We have completely relinquished control of all of this investigation to the SBI. Having a third party agency to do this investigation ensures that it's done objectively."
The SBI is handling the ongoing investigation, Hooper said.
Full transcript of the interview with Chief Hooper follows below:
Interview with Asheville Police Chief Tammy Hooper, July 5, 2016 by Jerrika Insco
Jerrika: We’re talking about an incident that happened on Saturday. I know you guys are involved in an investigation, but what can you say about what happened Saturday?
Chief Hooper: What happened Saturday is that officers were called to a call of shots fired in Pisgah View Apartments, and given description of a suspect vehicle. The officers were close by when they responded. Sgt. Tyler Radford observed the vehicle leaving the area and got into a chase with the vehicle that ended a short time later at the entrance of Deaverview Apartments. 0:35 During that time what he observed was that there were two females in the car with the male driver. When the vehicle got to the entrance of Deaverview, it went out of control onto the side of the road. He observed during the chase and at the end of it that there was a struggle between the driver and the front female passenger. When the vehicle stopped, the rear female passenger got out with a small child. And I don't know what the exact period of time is but there was a short struggle between the front female passenger and the front male passenger. She eventually got out of the car. He grabbed an AR-15 and the officer used deadly force against him.
Jerrika: As far as the AR-15 goes, do you know if it was legally obtained by the driver?
Chief Hooper: I have no idea.
Jerrika: When he had the AR-15, was he pointing it at anyone? Was deadly force necessary?
Chief Hooper: So the details for all of the piece by piece, what exactly happened, that is the exact purpose of the SBI conducting this investigation. Is to find out what those details are and make a determination of the justification of the shooting. We are in a situation where, we have completely relinquished control of all of this investigation to the SBI. Having a 3rd party agency to do this investigation ensures that it's done objectively. We also understand that they have expertise in the area of officer-involved shootings. So what happens now is that we will cooperate with them, provide them with whatever they require of us, and wait for them to do their investigation. Once they've completed that, they will consider the totality of everything they find in terms of evidence, in terms of witness statements and that sort of thing, and they’ll submit their case to the district attorney, Todd Williams. He will then make a final determination about the case with regard to the justification. Following that, we will do an administrative inquiry through our Professional Standards Department, which will determine whether or not the officer acted in a manner that was consistent with our policies and procedures. Also we’ll be looking at it from the perspective of, are our policies the right policies. And do we need to make changes or modifications to those. So that’s the process from here forward. So honestly, we just don’t have all the details of everything that’s happening, that’s part of the investigation that’s being conducted by an outside agency.
Jerrika: An outside agency steps in when you’re involved in it, correct? If APD is involved, APD can’t investigate it?
Chief Hooper: Yeah. Our policy, and one that I think is pretty common here in North Carolina, is that if it’s an officer-involved shooting, the agency does not investigate it itself, that’s done by the State Bureau of Investigation.
Jerrika: There’s several rumors floating around about a gun being planted, about all of these different things. Do you have any kind of statement about that, or a reply?
Chief Hooper: I would just say that right now what we’re asking is for the community to be patient and let the SBI complete their case. We would really appreciate if anybody has any kind of evidence or information, if they want to make statements or if they witnessed anything, to contact the SBI at the number that we listed on our press release that we put out last night and also Saturday. End of the day, all those details are gonna be sorted through, but again, this is not our investigation at this time.
Jerrika: What about the criminal history of this victim, have you guys dug into that? We found some minor charges like trespassing and things like that. Have you guys dug into his criminal history?
Chief Hooper: I don’t have personal knowledge of it. I’m sure we probably did check it when we were putting together his identification and so forth, but I don’t have personal knowledge of it.
Jerrika: And really all you can talk about is up until the point of the shooting? From there, you can’t really discuss the details?
Chief Hooper: Correct. So we made the release of as much information as we can make. And at this point, it’s up to the SBI to determine… We don’t want to do anything that’s gonna contaminate or infect their investigation in any way. So it’s on them at this point to decide if they wanna make any type of statement.
Jerrika: Are you confident this was handled correctly?
Chief Hooper: In what respect?
Jerrika: With your officer. That he did what he had to do, and this is what ended up happening. It’s not something you guys want, in the end to happen, but…
Chief Hooper: Nobody wants for this to ever happen. The whole point of the investigation and the determination by the district attorney is to make sure that what he did was justified. So we will stand by whatever that decision is. And I wanna throw in that we do understand that there’s a lot of rumors and so forth going on on social media. I got a message from James Lee [sp] from the Racial Justice Coalition. We arranged a meeting this afternoon with a number of community groups to include Racial Justice Coalition, NAACP, the IMA, the Resident’s Council, to discuss how we can try to work with the community to give them as much information as we can and ask them to please be patient and let the investigation take its course.
Jerrika: So that…I’m guessing the meeting with those community groups went well?
Chief Hooper: I believe that, I’m encouraged that we have members of the community who want to work together to get to really what is the truth. And that’s the whole goal of the whole investigatve process is to get to the truth and to take whatever action is at the end of that. In that respect, the opportunity to work with and partner with community agencies to have that conversation, I think is a very important one.
Jerrika: Anything else that you would like to say?
Chief Hooper: No.