74ºF

Nightclub massacre bodycam video documents officer response

News4Jax crime analyst breaks down officers' response

photo

ORLANDO, Fla. – New police bodycam video of the gay nightclub massacre in Florida shows a woman outside the club asking an officer why they don't just shoot the gunman.

In the video made public Thursday, the officer responds that officers inside the club don't want to risk shooting innocent people.

In another video, an officer shouts, "Let me see your hands!" to patrons escaping the club. Patrons' cellphones are heard ringing in the background.

WATCH: Bodycam video shows police response at Pulse 
(Note: Edited for graphic content)

News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said officers can't be trained to deal with the emotions that arise when they see carnage and believe they could be next.

"They don't know who the gunman is," Smith said "They have to treat hostages like a potential gunman, screaming at them to get their hands up until they can identify him. They have to treat everyone the same."

Footage from officers' body-cameras was released this week, almost a year after the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

Forty-nine club patrons were killed when gunman Omar Mateen opened fire at the Pulse nightclub last June 12. Mateen, who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, was killed in a shootout with police after a three-hour standoff.

While waiting outside a perimeter around the club, one officer wonders if Mateen has "offed himself by now." Another officers ask if they know if the shooter inside is a man or woman.

In another video, an officer off camera inside the club checks for the pulse of a patron only to announce the victim is dead. Later, an officer realizes that the massacre is an act of terrorism.

"It's terrorism in Orlando," the Orlando Police officer said of the gunman. "He pledged something to the Islamic State."

Some bodycam footage shows Pulse patrons being checked for weapons by officers after escaping the club with their hands up. Other footage shows an officer leading a patron out of a bathroom and down a hallway.

"Follow the sound of my voice. Come this way," the officer said.

One club patron was found crouched hiding in a shed and was hesitant to come out of it. "We're police, man. Come on. Get out!" an officer said.

Smith said it's impossible to criticize the officer's response to the massacre.

“No police department has dealt with this,” Smith said. “They are walking over dead bodies, injured people.”


About the Authors: