Crime

SWAT Officer Kills Knife-Wielding Hostage-Taker (Photos)

| by Erik Kindel

Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis released graphic footage to reporters on March 28, detailing the events and actions taken during a recent standoff at a Baltimore rowhome. The dramatic partial video, which was not released to the public, shows the moment SWAT Officer Zachary Wein kills Reno Owens, 39, during a tense hostage situation.

On March 24, Owens took two children hostage with a 12-inch butcher knife. Police were called, and eventually the SWAT team arrived, engaging Owens in dialog for at least an hour.

Owens was uncooperative and threatening. The lives of the children were assumed to be in danger, so the SWAT team took action.

The video shows a SWAT sergeant talking to Wein, saying, "I want you to be calm, I want you to be relaxed, and I want you to walk in there and kill this guy."

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Moments later, Wein walks up the steps, exchanges some words with Owens, and then fires a single fatal shot. Owen's last words can be heard in the video. He says, "I'd rather go out this way."

The video shows the kinds of situations police officers face, and the types of calculated risks that need to be taken to help people in danger.

The recording shows that sometimes officers need to make tough decisions, quickly, and sometimes there aren't nonlethal options available.

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This was the third officer-involved shooting that has taken place in Baltimore this year, reports New York Daily News.

The Baltimore Police Department has a history of excessive force, unlawful stops and discrimination. The department began using body cameras in 2016 as part of a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice. The police department now has approximately 900 officers wearing body cams.

Davis used the video as an opportunity to show reporters the decisions that face the Baltimore police daily, but also to praise his officers for their "courage, bravery, and grace under pressure."

At times during the recorded standoff between Owens and the SWAT team, Owens can be heard threatening the children, reciting prayers and even singing a lullaby.

Police have yet to determine whether Owens was using drugs at the time, but his mother, Doreen Parker, said he sometimes struggled with depression.

The video of the dramatic standoff was not released to the public because Davis wanted to protect the children from later trauma.

"As they go through their childhood, adolescence and the rest of their lives, we didn't want to create a video footprint they would be exposed to," Davis said, reports WBAL.

The children were reported safe and unharmed following the incident. 

Sources: New York Daily News, WBAL / Photo credit: Baltimore Police via New York Daily News, WJZ via Daily Mail, WBAL via Daily Mail, Reuters via Daily Mail

Should SWAT officers have waited until a negotiator could talk Owens down?
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