WOODBINE, Ga. – Attorneys representing the family of Latoya James, the woman who was shot and killed while Camden County deputies served a drug-related search warrant at a home in Woodbine, demanded Wednesday that investigators release the entire bodycam footage from the incident.
James, 37, was shot and killed at the home, which belongs to her cousin, 46-year-old Varshaun Brown, who was wounded as shots were fired.
James’ mother, Betty Jean Murphy-James, fought back tears as she spoke about her daughter at the news conference. She said she wants answers.
“She did not deserve this,” Murphy-James said. “She was not a bad person. She was the sweetest person you ever wanted to meet, and they took her from me.”
Body camera footage released of the incident shows approximately 3-minutes and 16-seconds of a total 3-hours and 43 minutes worth of footage from a deputy’s camera.
“We want that video. We want the whole video,” said attorney Malik Shabazz, who represents James’ family. “We’re going to pursue it vigorously.”
Footage shows deputies approach the home and announce themselves before knocking on the door. “Sheriff’s Office, search warrant,” a deputy can be heard saying as authorities enter the home.
In the footage that was released, a series of gunshots are heard, however, the footage is dark and not much is visible as the deputy is holding a shield.
“Why is the only person with a camera the one with the shield so you can’t see what they’re seeing? That’s one of the biggest questions we have,” said attorney Reginald Greene, also representing the family of James.
A statement released by the GBI mentioned there was an “exchange of gunfire between” Brown and James and law enforcement. The agency’s statement doesn’t specify who fired first.
The attorneys feel the deputies didn’t allow enough time for those inside the home to answer the door.
“The one body camera shows very rapid actions, which makes this search warrant equivalent of a no-knock warrant,” Shabazz said.
The attorney also said, “This case looks just like the Breonna Taylor case.”
Taylor was shot and killed by Louisville police during a no-knock warrant raid.
“This wasn’t from what we see a technical no-knock warrant, but what it was, was an ineffectively executed warrant that rose to the level of a no-knock warrant,” Greene said.
News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson said because it was a high-risk warrant, the deputies had the right to go inside without waiting.
“These type of warrants are served with an element of surprise,” Jefferson said. “They don’t want them to be expecting them to come and then they walk into an ambush.”
The GBI said it will conduct an independent investigation. When completed, it will be turned over to the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office for review.