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Police Body Cam Shows Intense Shooting
Evansville, IN - Evansville Police Department officials on Sunday quickly released video footage of an early morning shootout involving a police officer that happened in a crowded parking lot of a gas station near Downtown on Walnut Street. Police said 25-year-old Terronta L. Booker was armed and shooting at a person when he was shot, but officials said they were unsure if Booker was struck by bullets from police or another gunman. Department officials said they chose to release the footage from the officer's body camera Sunday afternoon because people at the scene expressed anger at officers shortly after the shooting. Sgt. Jason Cullum, a spokesman for the department, said at least one person claimed to have video that proved the officer was at fault and multiple people referenced the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri. A group of people also confronted investigators at the hospital. Sgt. Jason Cullum, a spokesman for the department, said around 3:30 a.m. the officer heard shots fired and called the incident into dispatch before exiting his vehicle in the parking lot of the Marathon station at Kentucky Avenue and Walnut Street. Booker was taken to the hospital after being shot multiple times with non-life threatening injuries. Cullum said investigators believe Booker and another person shot at each other before the officer entered the parking lot. Police have not identified the second shooter. Investigators detained a man they believe was at the gas station for questioning. The Evansville police officer involved in the case is a 7-year veteran of the department, Cullum said. He gave an initial statement to investigators but then was placed on a mandatory 72-hour leave. He will not be publicly identified until after that three-day period. Cullum commended the officer's actions during the incident and said he followed proper protocol. "I can assure you that this officer responded to the violent situation that unfolded in front of him," he said. "The fault of this incident falls on the gunmen who opened fire in a parking lot full of innocent people." Normally, officials would not make such footage available until after the investigation was complete. "We have a responsibility to prevent false information and speculation from dominating the conversations about this incident," Cullum said. "We have the responsibility to deter anyone who would chose to use this incident to create fear and mistrust of police by using information to influence people's judgment." There is audible gunfire in the footage released as the officer gets out his car. The officer then starts firing his gun and chases Booker around the gas station building. While describing the video to reporters, Cullum said Booker discarded his weapon during the short pursuit. He also noted that once Booker dropped his weapon, investigators do not believe the officer fired an any additional shots. Investigators believe the officer fired 11 shots in about four seconds. Cullum said he was unsure if Booker ever shot at the officer, but he said because there was so many people on the parking lot when the initial gunfire broke out the incident immediately became a public safety concern. "Under state law, the person firing a gun in a crowded parking lot is an eminent threat to cause seriously bodily injury or death to someone. When deadly force rules come in, it doesn't matter who that someone is. The officer felt the need to use deadly force, and he did," Cullum said. "He is very shaken up by the incident because he knows what kind of environment he just survived." Police later responded to a second shooting in the same area at about 11:30 a.m. Cullum said there were no problems with bystanders during that investigation. In that incident one person was shot in the hip and taken to the hospital for treatment. Investigators believe that shooting took place near the intersection of Cherry Street and Evans Avenue, but the person shot was found by authorities near Marathon station. Cullum said investigators do not believe the two shootings are related.