CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. — The family of a 68-year-old man killed by police said last week they wanted to view the bodycam video to see if their loved one was really a threat.
Days later, they now have it.
Charles Calhoun’s family just laid him to rest on Saturday, so they are not yet ready to comment on the video release.
The video shows the Clayton County officer who fired the shot that killed Calhoun last month, but because it does not show Calhoun, it offers limited evidence of what he did.
“Put the gun down. Put the (expletive) gun down now,” the officer told Calhoun on the video. “I will light your (expletive) up. Put it down.”
After the officer fired the fatal bullet, the video shows officers begin to administer first aid. Calhoun died soon after.
His wife pleaded with police last Friday to release the bodycam video so she could determine for herself if her husband posed a threat.
“I mean if the cameras showing justification for what... I can live with that. I can’t live with it until I know,” Calhoun’s wife, Sheryl Calhoun, said.
It all began around 5:20 a.m. in early March when neighbors began calling 911.
“There’s an elderly man who is like stumbling through the neighborhood carrying a rifle,” a caller told 911.
They reported seeing an elderly man in his pajamas walking, sitting and pointing his rifle at houses.
Some were concerned about his mental health.
“Looks like he’s a little bit older, maybe dementia,” one called told the 911 operator.
Others said he fired shots.
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“It’s a man in my yard shooting,” another caller said.
The bodycam video shows the shotgun Calhoun had and spent shell casings.
On Friday, his wife said someone tried to break into their home recently.
On the morning of the shooting, she said her husband called her and said he thought someone was trying to break in again.
“He said, ‘I’m going to walk outside and see what I see,’” said Sheryl Calhoun.
Sheryl Calhoun said COVID-19 made it hard for her husband to walk, and he fell often. She believes his health struggles were why so many neighbors said he kept going to the ground.
Sheryl Calhoun said her husband most likely had no idea police officers were the ones taking cover behind the houses.
Police say they fired after Charles Calhoun pointed his weapon at them.
Because Charles Calhoun is not visible in the video, it is not possible to use the video to confirm whether he pointed his weapon at officers. No verbal commands are audible until after a shot is fired.
Police say they had limited information about Calhoun, it was dark, and it was raining. Calhoun’s family says those reasons are why the police needed to investigate more before using deadly force.
“He was a homeowner protecting his family. Protecting our house. And y’all took him from us,” said Charles Calhoun’s sister, Chelsea Calhoun.
Clayton County police released a statement saying they would not add on to the video. Police say releasing the video and 911 calls is in line with Chief Kevin Roberts’ policy of transparency.
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