BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Titusville police released body camera video of a deadly police shooting in December that led to the officer who pulled the trigger facing manslaughter charges.
Police released a video presentation on the events of the shooting, detailing the timeline and the reasons for the charge against former Officer Joshua Payne.
You can see the unredacted video in the media player below. Warning, the video may be disturbing to some. Discretion is advised:
James Lowery, 40, was fatally shot in December by Payne, who was one of several officers who responded to a 911 call reporting that a man was attacking a woman along South Deleon Avenue, police said.
The video starts with a timeline of how the events of Dec. 26 unfolded — starting with a call to 911 at 6:55 p.m. and ending with the deadly shooting at 7:13 p.m.
After that, the dispatchers can be heard on the video directing units to respond to reports of a man attacking a woman. The suspect in that attack was described as a man with dreadlocks, blue jeans and a black jacket.
The video then shows a map of where the incident took place as the voice of Titusville Police Chief John Lau narrates. The chief describes other officers stopping two other men who matched the description of the attacker. The chief said both men were detained and released without incident.
In the video, the chief then begins to describe the confrontation with Lowery, saying he matched the description of the suspect.
The video then cuts to Payne’s body camera, which starts with him parking his cruiser and getting out to confront Lowery.
Radio communication is played over the video. Anything Lowery or Payne may have said to each other during the initial contact cannot be heard. The video shows Lowery walking away from Payne before running.
Payne can then be seen running after Lowery while also firing his Taser. Later in the video, the chief said that Payne fired his Taser five times.
“Our training specifically details that if a technique does not give the desired result, then we must change our response to that resistance,” Lau said.
As the chase continues, the video shows Lowery reaching into his pocket. The video later details that Lowery was discarding drugs. At this point, the video states that Payne draws his gun, but does not discard his Taser. At this point, the video shows Payne with his gun in his left hand and his Taser in his right hand.
The video shows the two men approach a fence. At this point, Lowery turns toward Payne, reaching for both the gun and Taser and the two men struggle briefly, according to the video.
“Get down! Get down! Get down,” Payne can be heard shouting in the video as the Taser goes off.
The video shows Lowery backing away from Payne, then turning, running and attempting to jump the fence.
“He’s running, he’s running,” Payne shouts in the video.
Payne, who is still holding his Taser and his gun, then attempts to follow Lowery over the fence, according to the video. A single gunshot is heard.
“Shot fired, shot fired,” Payne can be heard saying in the video.
The video shows other officers arriving on the scene and Payne has to be pulled away from the situation as he appears to lose his composure. The video then shows details of Payne’s record as an officer.
See previous our previous coverage in the media player below:
He was hired on July 6, 2020, handled 4,152 incidents, took 224 reports, had 783 traffic stops, made 79 arrests and had seven use of force incidents.
In the video, the chief then goes back over the details leading up to the shooting, saying that Payne “had the legal right to stop and detain (Lowery) for identification purposes.” Lau points back to the other men who were detained and released after they were identified.
The chief then goes back to the chase.
“When Lowery reached into pockets, it clearly raised the officer’s threat concerns, which caused him to draw his firearm,” Lau said.
The chief then said that Lowery “aggressively resisted arrest because of the amount of drugs on his person.” Lau then goes on to say the Payne was not justified in his use of deadly force, adding that Payne resigned as an officer when he was charged with manslaughter on June 1.
“Although Officer Payne’s decision to draw his firearm, based on Mr. Lowery’s actions, was sound — our training specifically addresses transitioning from one tool to another,” Lau said. “At no time do we train our officers to operate both Taser and firearm at the same time.”
In the video, the chief then reiterates that Lowery matched the suspect description from the domestic violence incident.
“Officer Payne had a legal right to detain Mr. Lowery and gave him a lawful order to stop,” Lau said. “Mr. Lowery’s decision to run away from Officer Payne and to physically resist his lawful orders to stop also contributed to this incident.”
Despite that, the chief ultimately places the blame for Lowery’s death on Payne.
“Officer Payne’s actions and verbalizations during the foot pursuit, brief struggle with Mr. Lowery and post shot being fired indicate to us that he did not respond to this incident as we train our officers,” Lau said. “Furthermore, when looking at the totality of the circumstances, we believe that officer Payne did not intend for his firearm to be discharged, which is also a severe violation of the policies covering firearm safety rules.”
The department held a news conference Thursday about the body camera video.
“We met with the family of Mr. Lowery earlier this morning,” Lau said. “This is painful. This is painful for them. This was not a justified shooting. It was an accidental shooting with tragic results.”
Lau said that Payne had other options while Lowery was resisting arrest, such as pepper spray or taking a “tactical pause” to allow other officers to arrive and assist.
However, he added, “When you’re actually out chasing the bad guys, and you have a half of a second to think on something — it is challenging.”
Lowery’s family retained well-known civil rights attorney Ben Crump.
“(When we got involved with this case) it was clear to us that a shot to the back of the head, nothing else needs to be said,” Crump said during a news conference earlier this month. “That is unjustified. That is unjustified. You can’t justify shooting a man in the back of the head as he’s running away from you. You’re no threat, running away from an officer.”
Crump previously called on the state attorney to release the body camera video from the shooting.
“We still haven’t seen the video. They had that video day 1, but it took almost six months for them to finally bring charges against this officer,” he said.