Newly released body camera footage shows the courage and sacrifice that goes with serving as a police officer.
As the PoliceActivity YouTube channel reported on Thursday, the video recorded last Aug. 13 shows what happened when a North Carolina police officer responded to reports of a man threatening to shoot himself. James Matthew Roberts was seen waving a gun around outside of a Buffalo Wild Wings in Gastonia.
But the real story here is the compassion and professionalism shown by the first responding officer, Maurice Taylor III. Pulling up, Taylor saw Matthews sitting in his car, holding a gun. But Taylor didn’t immediately resort to the use of force. Instead, he began repeatedly calling on the gunman to lower his weapon, shouting, “Put the gun down!” Calling for backup, Taylor continued his effort at de-escalation. As Roberts demanded Taylor shoot him, Taylor again reinforced that he didn’t want to do so, saying, “Please put the f—ing gun down!”
Backing away, the officer appeared to calm Roberts down temporarily. Taylor reduced his volume, reinforcing his point that Roberts needed to drop the weapon. At this point, Roberts escalated, stepping outside of his car, asking Taylor, “Do you have f—ing kids,” and pledging, “I will f—ing shoot you!”
Again, Taylor showed restraint, warning Roberts not to raise his gun. Again facing Roberts’s repeated demands that Taylor shoot him, the officer responded, “No, sir, please don’t make me do this.”
Only when Roberts advanced towards him did Taylor open fire.
Just-arrived backup officers secured the scene and told Taylor to back off. The next three minutes show Taylor’s gut-wrenching anguish as he grappled with what he’s just been forced to do. He repeatedly hits the back of his patrol car and has to be comforted by his fellow officers.
Fortunately, Roberts survived. He served 150 days in jail awaiting trial and was later sentenced to two years’ probation. But the real story here is an officer who, when confronted by a gunman, asked more than 25 times for said gunman to put down his weapon. And his deep pain at eventually having to act speaks to something we too often neglect: Police officers are only human. And most of them do extremely good work in exceptionally difficult work.
You can watch what happened below.