The New Orleans Police Department on Wednesday made public a video the agency suggested shows an officer was justified when he fatally shot a man Jan. 24 during a sting operation in New Orleans East.
The department said the footage — recorded by another officer's body-worn camera — depicts Arties Manning III holding a gun and turning toward a uniformed officer moments before he was killed by a plainclothes cop out of the video's view.
But an attorney representing the slain 26-year-old man's family countered that the footage is too "low quality" to establish whether what investigators described as a "small black object" in Manning's right hand was actually a gun — or to resolve other lingering uncertainties about a shooting that authorities said remains under scrutiny.
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Wednesday's events came five days after Manning's relatives attended a prayer service outside the New Orleans Criminal District Courthouse and demanded the release of a body camera video they had been told existed but had not seen.
The family and their attorney, MacArthur Justice Center Co-Director Katie Schwartzmann, viewed the footage Tuesday, during the latest of several meetings with NOPD.
Police then briefed news reporters on the clip Wednesday, with a sergeant in the NOPD's Force Investigation Team giving the most detailed explanation yet about why the agency believes Manning was mortally wounded only after he grabbed a gun.
The family of a man fatally shot by a New Orleans Police Department officer last month prote…
The footage released Wednesday begins as a combination of plainclothes cops and officers wearing gear with NOPD logos descended on an apartment complex courtyard at Curran and Read boulevards in an attempt to capture Harry Palmore, suspected in a pair of armed robberies and an attempted robbery during the previous week.
The video shows a uniformed officer approached Manning in an apparent bid to grab him, as another officer walked up with his body camera rolling.
Manning — wearing sweatpants and a black, hooded sweatshirt with white letters across the chest — began running across the courtyard, and the officer who had tried to touch him gave chase.
A zoomed-in, frozen frame of that moment appears to depict Manning's right hand holding a dark object that Sgt. David Barnes of the Force Investigation Team said was a gun whose barrel was still inside a waistband holster.
A few moments later, another enlarged, paused frame seems to show Manning turning toward the officer pursuing him, with the dark object still in his right hand.
Manning soon rounded a corner of the building with the object still in his right hand and was blocked from the body camera's view, Barnes said.
While out of view, Manning came face-to-face with plainclothes officer Terrance Hilliard, who shot him three times, according to a group of NOPD officials who included Superintendent Michael Harrison and Public Integrity Bureau Chief Arlinda Westbrook.
The officer wearing the body camera rounded the corner an instant after the shots were fired, and a close-up suggests Manning was in the process of dropping the object. The recording officer then turned to a second-floor walkway on the right, aimed a gun at a man identified as Palmore, and apparently motioned for him to stop.
Until that point, the audio on the video shown Wednesday was muted. The audio came back on as the recording officer approached Palmore, grabbed a police radio and shouted "108!" — the code used when an officer's life is in danger. That was followed by a call for paramedics to come to the scene under the highest urgency.
The New Orleans Police Department acknowledged Friday that a man fatally shot by a plainclot…
Barnes said police immediately recovered the holstered gun that Manning dropped from his hand when he was shot, though that scene wasn't shown Wednesday.
He said the gun was registered to someone other than Manning, but he declined to elaborate on the significance of that, citing an ongoing investigation.
"We can say he wasn't supposed to have it," Harrison said.
Police said they believe the footage discussed Wednesday is the only video showing what led up to Manning's shooting. That footage was captured by an officer in plainclothes.
Neither Hilliard nor the officer who tried to stop Manning was wearing a body camera that day, officials said. That was OK for Hilliard because he was in plainclothes and wearing a camera would have blown his cover, but officials stopped short of saying the same about the other officer.
Westbrook said investigators were still looking into why that officer did not have his body camera — which likely would have captured angles closer to Manning — and whether that reason was justified under NOPD guidelines.
The results of DNA testing performed on the gun recovered near Manning are still pending, Westbrook said.
A real-time version of the footage shown Wednesday clocked in at 34 seconds. The version with slow motion, pauses and close-ups added another 73 seconds.
Body camera footage depicting the aftermath of the shooting has not been released.
Multiple canvasses of the complex have failed to turn up any surveillance or cellphone videos, officials said.
Schwartzmann, the Manning family's attorney, said the police's decision to allow her clients to view the footage was helpful. But she denied that any of the images officials highlighted were definitive, saying "specific images are hard to make out" and that the family awaits the conclusion of the NOPD's internal investigation.
"We have a lot of questions about why this police operation was conducted as it was. And of course, a critical question remains whether the officer who shot Arties was in fear for his safety," Schwartzmann said. "The video doesn’t show that part of the interaction."