One police officer in Florida was shot and another was injured during a gun battle with a murder suspect who was killed during the exchange of fire, authorities said.
On Saturday the Daytona Beach Police Department released graphic body camera footage that showed the shootout that left Michael A. Harris dead, one officer shot and another injured after falling.
Authorities said Harris, 44, was wanted for attempted murder related to the shooting of a woman at a Travelers Inn on August 18.
During a press conference, Police Chief Craig Capri maintained that his officers responded appropriately.
‘[Harris’] intent was to go out in a shootout, not to surrender,’ said Capri.
But Harris’ family members who’ve seen footage of the shooting said authorities went too far.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement opened an investigation into the incident.
Footage begins with five officers from Daytona Beach and the Holly Hill Police Department approach an apartment complex on Espanola Avenue on Saturday to serve an arrest warrant.
An anonymous tipster had called 911 at 2.38pm to report the whereabouts of Harris.
The group of men, one of whom has a rifle drawn, set up a perimeter around the complex before approaching apartment 104 in search of Harris.
One woman sitting outside the apartment says she doesn’t know Harris, but a man standing nearby tells officers that he may be inside or fleeing through a window.
After a few moments, the officer holding the rifle unlocks the apartment door and encounters Harris, who quickly hides behind a bedroom door in the back of the residence.
‘Police department, show me your hands!’ the officer shouts.
He follows Harris to the bedroom door and kicks it open just as Harris opens fire with a handgun.
The officer screams out in pain as the bullet strikes him in the right chest area, but his bullet proof vest stops any severe injuries.
‘I’m hit!’ the officers yells to his colleagues.
Using an adjacent wall as cover, the officer continues to shoot in the general area of the bedroom as a gun battle ensues.
Suddenly, a petrified woman’s voice screams out and officers discover a woman was inside the home at the time of the shootout. She repeatedly screams and asks officers to call an ambulance.
When officers remove the woman from the scene, they call for Harris to come out of the bedroom and ask that he show his hands.
It’s unclear when exactly Harris was hit by law enforcement, but he does not appear to return fire for at least three minutes of the six-minute shootout.
Authorities discovered Harris’ body inside the bedroom and he died from his injuries at the scene.
According to a press release, the officer who was struck in the chest is expected to recover and a second officer was injured after tripping during the incident.
‘One round struck the ballistic vest of a full-time patrol officer. The vest stopped the bullet from penetrating, leaving him with a bruise in the right chest area. He is expected to recover after he went to Halifax Health Medical Center (HHMC) for treatment,’ the release read.
‘Another full-time DBPD officer on scene tripped and fell outside of the apartment while shots were being fired.
‘Paramedics took him to HHMC, where he is being treated for injuries to his head and neck. He remains in stable condition and should recover from his injuries.’
Both officers have been placed paid administrative leave while the Florida Department of Law Enforcement reviews the matter, which is standard in officer-involved shootings.
Neither officers’ identities have been released due to the ongoing investigation.
At the press conference, Police Chief Capri defended his department’s response to the shooting.
‘If you pull a gun on a police officer and shoot a police officer, you’re going to get killed. Simple as that,’ said Capri.
‘I can’t make that any clearer, we don’t want to take a life , we want to save lives but when you pull a gun and there’s video, you can see that he tried to murder these police officers.’
He said that the officers had not intended to kill Harris, but had opened fire in response to the suspect.
‘He had a warrant for his arrest. All he had to do was surrender peacefully and go to jail and let the criminal justice system play itself out.
‘But he took it on his own abilities to try and kill police officers. And we don’t get paid to get killed.
Chief Craig Capri speaks to reporters about a fatal officer involved shooting earlier today. Two of our officers were injured in the incident. MORE: http://www.codb.us/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=936
Capri admitted that he was proud of his officers and the work local enforcement has done.
‘It’s like I said, 99.99% of officers in this country do the same thing, and people want to all of us as being bad under the same brush,’ he said.
‘We’ve been attacked not only in the media but also by several radical groups.
‘I’m not going to let the voice of a small few go against us because I know what we stand for’.
Harris’ family told FOX 35 that they’ve viewed the body camera footage and although they send prayers to the officers, they’re wondering why their loved one was killed in such a way.
‘He belongs to a family who loved him dearly, in spite of his flaws. When it comes to him, what happened to him is wrong,’ his cousin, Victoria Harris, said.
‘I’m not justifying whatever happened and prayers go to his family as well, but regardless my cousin didn’t deserve to die.’