LOWELL, Mich. (WOOD) — Body camera footage of a Lowell officer shooting at a car as it tried to get away has now been released.
The officer, Jason Diaz, is now heading to trial for opening fire and injuring two people inside the car, including a teen. He has since resigned from the Lowell Police Department.
News 8 obtained the video through an open records request. The entire incident from last August lasted less than 15 minutes. In the video, see the officer fire multiple shots at the car even after it starts driving away.
A copy of the investigation report says Diaz observed a Chevrolet Impala missing a license plate “fail to dim its high beam headlights.” The report says Diaz attempts to pull the car over, reaching speeds of over 100 mph during the pursuit.
The video shows Diaz catching up to the Impala when it stops because a tree is blocking the road.
“Out of the car,” Diaz can be heard yelling as he drew his gun and shouted, “Let me see your hands.”
The passengers stayed in the car. The video shows the Impala back up when the officer pulls the trigger.
“Shots fired. He tried to take me out with a vehicle,” Diaz said in the video.
Diaz is then seen firing additional shots at the fleeing car even after the officer’s gun jams. Shortly after, the Impala crashes into a nearby ditch and the passengers take off on foot.
“He tried taking me out,” Diaz said to a fellow officer. “I got out of the car I was like stop, gun was out. He backed into me, I quick jumped in. I fired through the vehicle.”
The other officer asked Diaz if the subjects had a gun.
“I have no idea, but he would’ve took my a– out,” Diaz responded.
Interviews with the suspects reveal that one of the passengers was hit in the arm. Another bullet grazed a teenager in the back of the head. Both survived.
The body camera also records Diaz calling his chief, Christopher Hurst. During the conversation, a fellow officer makes sure the conversation is off the record by saying, “You’re not recording, right?”
At that point the audio shuts off.
Diaz is due back in court next week. If convicted, Diaz could face up to 10 years in prison.
News 8 learned Diaz has been in trouble with the law before. Internal documents show about a year before the incident, the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office turned down Diaz for a position in its department stating, “During the course of this background investigation, multiple concerning issues were discovered in regard to Jason Diaz having multiple arrests ….”
Documents show Diaz has a criminal history from 1994 to 2002. The crimes include felony carrying a concealed weapon of a knife and possession of marijuana. The charges were dropped down to a misdemeanor possession of a switch blade. An arrest for a bench warrant and a workplace fight were among other charges he faced.
News 8 reached out to the Lowell police chief to ask why the department felt Diaz was a good fit. The chief declined an interview. Instead, a spokesperson sent a statement:
“In hiring Officer Diaz, we followed our standard procedures and conducted a background check. We were aware of these incidents, many of which occurred in his youth and certainly well before he enrolled in the police academy,” the statement said in part.
Diaz worked full time as an officer in Muskegon Heights before being hired by Lowell.