By Ben Keller
An Oklahoma City police officer who fatally shot a suicidal man who called 911 for help on November 15 was charged with second degree murder Tuesday.
Body cam footage shows that when police arrived to the scene, two officers attempted talking to 29-year-old Dustin Pigeon, telling him to drop a bottle of lighter fluid he was holding in his hands.
“Come here, man, stop it,” one officer can be heard saying.
“Let me see your hands, bud.”
Pigeon complied, dropping his hands to his waist then raising them after the officers’ orders.
“Back off me,” Pigeon says, raising his hands.
“My hands are up.”
A third officer, Oklahoma City Police Sergeant Keith Sweeney, approached and began shouting.
“I will fucking shoot you! Get on the ground!” he can be heard saying on his own body cam’s footage.
Oklahoma City Police Sgt. Keith Sweeney (Oklahoma County Jail)
In the video, one officer can be seen firing a bean bag round at Pigeon, attempting to subdue him with non-lethal force.
Immediately after, in what police shooting experts might call a “sympathetic discharge,” Sweeney opens fire, striking Pigeon several times, killing him.
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said the use of deadly force against Pigeon was not justified and filed murder charges against Sweeney on December 5.
“Pigeon would not drop the lighter,” Prater said during a press conference, which can be seen below.
“He was substantially compliant with the officers’ orders. At one point, Mr. Pigeon dropped his hands to waist level.”
“You see officers doing exactly the right thing almost every single time,” Prater told reporters.
“This is one of those situations, though, where we’ve alleged that an officer crossed the line and in fact broke the law.”
Apparently, this may not have been the first time Sweeney crossed the line and broke the law.
In 2015, Sweeney was involved in another fatal shooting of a deaf man.
In that case, Sweeney told investigators the suspect attempted to hit two officers with his vehicle in northwest Oklahoma City.
Prater says he’s still reviewing the medical examiner’s report before announcing his decision about whether or not he’ll fire charges in that case.
He told reporters it’ll be up to a jury to decide whether or not they believe Sweeney’s statement that he feared for his life, since Pigeon was holding a knife.
Although video shows Pigeon was actually never holding a knife.
Pigeon also does not appear to be damp from dousing himself with lighter fluid, as Sweeney claimed.
It’s still now clear how, even if that was the case, that would pose a threat to Sweeney’s life.
Prater praised the other two officers for using “textbook” deescalation tactics, but criticized Sgt. Sweeney for not following their lead.
“Sweeney should not have been yelling orders,” he said. “You don’t want a third officer coming in, you don’t want three different people giving different commands.”
“That confuses people, especially when they’re in a state of mind like Mr. Pigeon was.”
Watch footage from Sweeney’s body cam, as well as Prater’s press conference, below.
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