GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — An additional 30 seconds of body camera video obtained by News 8 show the moments before a Grand Rapids police officer fired his gun, apparently on accident, narrowly missing an innocent man.
The officer, Gregory Bauer, is charged with misdemeanor careless discharge of a firearm causing property damage in the Dec. 9, 2021, shooting. Police said they spotted what they believed to be a stolen car and saw Daevionne Smith getting out of it and going into a home. They set up a perimeter and when he came out, they moved in on him. That’s when Bauer fired the shot. It didn’t hit Smith but did damage a nearby home. Officers soon realized Smith’s car was not the one they were looking for and he had not done anything wrong.
The Grand Rapids Police Department released bodycam video in February but didn’t include the moments before the shot was fired. News 8 has been working to get the additional video for weeks and ultimately obtained it from the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office after filing a Freedom of Information Act Request.
The new video shows the 30 seconds before Bauer fired the shot, though that portion does not include audio because there is always a 20- to 30-second delay in audio when the cameras are activated, sources explained to News 8.
In the video, Bauer is seen running toward Smith with his gun raised. Smith’s arms can be seen raised in the air.
The video initially released by GRPD shows Bauer immediately told other officers that he was the person who fired the shot. When Smith asked him why, Bauer said, “I tripped.”
Because the additional 30 seconds of video doesn’t have audio, it’s difficult to say exactly when Bauer tripped or when the shot was fired.
After GRPD released the bodycam video in February, News 8 asked why it didn’t include anything before the shot was fired. In an email response, GRPD said it had released all the body-worn camera (BWC) video and that the only thing it had redacted was dialogue between officers at the end of the situation.
Pressed on why the moments before the shooting weren’t recorded, the city’s communication director said in an email that Bauer had turned off his bodycam while driving to the scene and that it was later reactivated. That, the spokesperson said, is why there was a gap in what was released.
GRPD had said that more videos may be released in the future as it continued to process a FOIA request.
The portion of the bodycam video included in this article has been shortened by News 8 to end as Smith moves out of frame so it does not show the face of a second person who was handcuffed at the scene. The audio in the video has also been edited by News 8 so it does not include profanity.
NEW GRPD CHIEF PROMISES TRANSPARENCY
GRPD Chief Eric Winstrom didn’t take over his job until early March — well after the shooting and after the initial video release. In an interview Tuesday, he said that under his leadership, things will be different.
“Making sure that that whole story is out there is super important because of transparency and to avoid situations like this,” Winstrom said.
Asked if mistakes were made in the way information and video was released, Winstrom shied away from that language.
“I wouldn’t call it mistakes because I wasn’t here at the time and I haven’t talked to the previous administration about what went on, but I know the right way to do it is to get the video out quickly, to get it out completely and to get it out really with context,” Winstrom said.
The December shooting happened about four months before a GRPD officer shot and killed Patrick Lyoya following a traffic stop. The bodycam and dashboard camera video from that case was released nine days after the shooting. Asked how the public can believe there’s not an additional 30 seconds in that case, Winstrom said the case is evidence of why the department must be consistently transparent.
“That’s why it’s so important that we set that precedent from the beginning of transparency, every time,” Winstrom said.
Because the criminal case against Bauer is still working its way through the courts, Winstrom could not comment Tuesday on why his body camera was turned off or when additional video from that night could be released.
Smith has sued GRPD and the city, claiming assault, battery and gross negligence. He told News 8 he remains traumatized by the shooting.
“I get real jittery, I start sweating. You know it’s like, it’s a fearful moment because you don’t know what’s going to happen when you see a GRPD officer or any officer,” Smith said in April.
He is a cousin of Breonna Taylor, a Grand Rapids native who was killed by officers in Louisville, Kentucky in 2020.