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Video: Wyo. police shoot man who held wife hostage, pointed gun at her

Body camera footage shows that officers spoke to the man for several minutes before the shooting occurred, offering him cigarettes and attempting to talk him down from violence toward his wife

CPD releases footage showing tense final moments of man killed by police in March

The video has a caption that reads, “After several minutes of negotiation, Flores points his weapon in the direction of the woman and officers fire at him.”

Cheyenne Police Department via Facebook

By Samir Knox
Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, Cheyenne

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — On the evening of March 8, police were told a man was firing a gun in his north Cheyenne home, and a woman was screaming.

The suspect, 47-year-old Patrick Flores, was killed by police, and three officers have been placed on leave while the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation reviews the incident. Officials with the Cheyenne Police Department have said this is standard procedure for incidents when police use force in the field.

An investigation into the matter is ongoing, DCI has confirmed to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. “The case is still an open investigation and will be for some time,” a DCI commander told the WTE in an email Thursday morning.

For nearly a month, few more details were available to the public. On Thursday, CPD released an edited, nearly 16-minute-long video that showed the tense final moments of Flores and his altercation with police.

The video begins with an “approximate event timeline” breaking down the 22 minutes between when police were dispatched to the Fishing Bridge residence and when Flores was fatally shot.

The timeline

That evening’s events went as follows:

— 6:18 p.m.: police are dispatched to the scene,

— 6:25 p.m.: officers make announcements commanding Flores to leave, which he does not comply with,

— 6:28 p.m.: officers hear a woman scream, prompting them to breach the front door,

— 6:29 p.m.: an officer attempts to communicate with Flores, who is with his wife on the second floor of the residence, but he refuses to release her,

— 6:40 p.m.: after requests for Flores to exit an upstairs bedroom, where his wife is, Flores is briefly seen exiting the room before multiple police officers open fire, killing Flores.

The video

The majority of the video details the interaction officers have with Flores from the base of a staircase inside the residence. Flores and his wife are in a room in the second floor of the home, and Flores is only seen in the video for a few seconds before he is shot and killed. According to the timeline compiled by CPD, that interaction took place between 6:29 and 6:40 p.m.

The footage begins with multiple officers approaching the door of the residence. One officer knocks on the door repeatedly, announcing that they are with CPD. After nobody replies, another officer instructs the first to “kick it.” The sound of a woman screaming can be heard, faintly, in the recording.

The officer near the door kicks it roughly 20 times before officers enter the home. As they enter, the video shifts to two different body camera videos played simultaneously. Although Flores cannot be seen on the video at this time, it pauses and highlights a flash of light at the top of the staircase, described by CPD as a “muzzle flash.”

This is where shots are exchanged between a CPD officer and Flores. Officers then leave the residence and report that shots have been fired over the radio. At this time, police request a SWAT team, medical personnel and a crisis negotiation unit, a caption on the video says.

The officer who interacts with Flores the most then re-enters the home, and other officers follow suit. Flores and the officer speak to one another from separate floors of the building, with Flores repeatedly demanding that officers not come upstairs. Throughout the interaction, multiple officers keep their guns pointed at a hallway on the second floor of the residence. The officer in the video alludes to not being able to see Flores or his wife, and Flores is not seen throughout the majority of his dialogue with police.

As the officer approaches, he yells, “Sir, you need to come out, now.” He also speaks to the woman, who tells the officer that they are the only two people in the residence at that time.

Flores can repeatedly be heard yelling, “Don’t come up,” while his wife can be heard saying, “Don’t shoot me” and “I don’t have a weapon.”

As the officer approaches the staircase, a voice that presumably belongs to Flores warns him not to climb the staircase.

“Hey, ... I told you, enough, man, if you keep on coming up I’m gonna (unintelligible) at you,” he can be heard saying.

The woman is repeatedly heard calling to the officer to help her throughout the video, among other statements that are not completely audible.

The officer whose perspective the video is from then issues a statement on his radio to notify the SWAT team that the incident is a “hostage situation.”

Officers ask the man to leave again, to which he refuses. The woman is then heard saying that “He won’t let (her) out.”

The officer asks Flores to “talk to (him).” To which he replies, “No, I ain’t talking to you, you’re a pig, (expletive) you.”

As the situation escalates, officers continue to keep their guns drawn at the staircase. In the interaction, at one point, officers attempt to get Flores a pack of cigarettes, which he asks them to throw upstairs.

The dialogue continues for the majority of the video, with officers repeatedly telling the man they do not want Flores to hurt the woman. At one point, glass can be heard breaking upstairs, as well. The woman is heard asking officers not to come upstairs.

As officers attempt to get Flores cigarettes, they can be seen moving a couch so the officer communicating with Flores can get closer to the staircase. He later deploys and talks from behind a bulletproof shield.

In the final moments before Flores exits the room, and is ultimately shot, the officer communicating with him asks the man to talk about his feelings, as they attempt to get the man, or his wife, to leave the room to retrieve the cigarettes.

The video has a caption that reads, “After several minutes of negotiation, Flores points his weapon in the direction of the woman and officers fire at him.” The claim that firing on Flores was prompted by him aiming the gun at the woman — which has been repeated by CPD in multiple official statements — cannot be substantiated by the video. Flores is only briefly visible on screen before multiple officers open fire on him.

“Don’t shoot me,” Flores says as he appears to be entering into view. Although partially unintelligible, the officer talking to him says a phrase to the effect of “I’m not trying to shoot you.”

Within seconds of becoming visible, and a second after saying, “Don’t shoot me, don’t (expletive) shoot me,” officers shoot and kill Flores.

What’s going on?

Text that precedes the footage from CPD says that Flores and his wife were “in a bedroom on the second floor.” What’s unclear from the video is whether officers were certain, when firing at Flores, that his wife was not in the line of fire at the time, or if she could be seen by the officers in the home. CPD officials contacted by the WTE on Thursday were not able to confirm many specifics of the incident beyond what can be observed in the video.

While DCI continues to investigate the matter, few more details on the incident are publicly available, but CPD Chief Mark Francisco spoke with the WTE to discuss what he could about the incident. When asked if officers consider the potential for lethal force during a 911 call response, he said it was contextual.

“I think you’ve got to look at it in the broader context of the call that we received, which was that this woman was being held against her will and that the guy holding her was armed and had fired shots inside the house,” he said. “So, if you’re an officer responding to a call like that, you certainly would consider (lethal force) a possibility of something you might do.”

The chief was also asked about what could have gone better in the situation depicted in the video.

“I mean, just in a broad sense, yes, it could have gone better; the individual could have given up and complied with the direction,” he said. “In a broader sense ... I saw a lot of things that we trained (for) put into place, a lot of de-escalation tactics, you know, a lot of just trying to establish a rapport with someone that’s obviously in some kind of crisis.

”... As far as anything that could have gone better from maybe a tactics standpoint, you know, those evaluations are ongoing. But, really, at this point — with the limited information even I have — I would say that the officers, you know, ... followed their training.”

Francisco added that the situation was high-stress, and that the officers used several effective tactics like trying to establish a rapport with Flores.

“Those kinds of things are what you would expect them to try to do to put him at ease, and work him through this crisis that he’s having,” Francisco said. “So, I’m happy with the way that worked out.”

He added that, if the incident had gone on longer, the SWAT team and other agencies would have been involved, as well.

Domestic violence

In instances where a person in a relationship might fear for their safety or well-being, Cheyenne Safe House Executive Director Carla Thurin told the WTE about the best practices for identifying issues, when to get the police involved and how to leave, if you can.

“So, I believe that any time that you feel threatened, or that things could escalate to become even more violent, you should definitely call law enforcement,” Thurin said. “If some people hesitate about it, whether they should or shouldn’t, if nothing else, get to a safe place and call us, or call somebody else that can help you navigate your safety.

“But, the main thing that a person needs to do is find that safe place to be, and if you can’t get there, call 911 immediately.”

Thurin also added that domestic violence can and does occur to men, too, who she added should also seek help if they feel threatened or in danger.

“Domestic violence is about power and control,” she continued, “and anytime somebody tries to get power or control over you, you’re a victim.”

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