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Body camera captures sounds, few sights of fatal Syracuse shooting

Body camera footage from Syracuse, Utah police officer Robert Guillen recorded on January 8, 2015.
Body camera footage from Syracuse, Utah police officer Robert Guillen recorded on January 8, 2015.

Content warning: This footage was edited by KSL for language, but you can still hear gunshots and some of the confrontation.

SYRACUSE — As soon as Syracuse police officer Robert Guillen's body camera is turned on, he can be heard trying to calm down Thomas Hamby's crying girlfriend.

Then two shots are fired.

"Where's he at?" Guillen yells as he runs to take cover while still having an eye on the house.

On Wednesday, a report by the Utah Attorney General's Office ruled the fatal shooting of Hamby, 49, on the night of Jan. 8 was legally justified. On Thursday, body camera video worn by two officers that night was released.

The video was recorded by Guillen and Syracuse Police Sgt. Ryan Carter. The majority of both videos is dark, either because of a lack of lighting or because the officers were holding rifles to their shoulders, blocking the views of the camera.

But the audio recorded from the incidents was clear.

On Jan. 8, police were called to Hamby's Syracuse home, 2964 W. 2125 South, after his girlfriend reported he was hallucinating and had a gun. Dispatchers warned that Hamby said he would shoot any officers who tried to enter the house.

As Carter approaches the area, his body camera records him talking in a soft voice to dispatchers about the situation.

"He's sitting in doorway. Sounds like he's racking a shotgun," another officer says on the police radio.

Carter asks dispatchers to start a reverse 911 for all homes within a quarter-mile of Hamby's house and tell residents to evacuate. He then calls for more units to position themselves around the house and to help evacuate homes.

Dispatchers inform the officers that Hamby is deaf and doesn't have his hearing aid in, according to video.

As Carter is sitting in his patrol car, shots are fired. The video shows him getting out and running toward the house. Another round of shots are fired shortly after.

"Give me as many units as you possibly can right now," an officer is heard saying on the two-way radio.

Initially, there is confusion about whether an officer has been shot.

"Any officers down?" Guillen can be heard yelling.

When the gunfire stops, police officers can be heard yelling from their cover positions to check on the status of their colleagues. They determine no officer was hit.

When asking about whether anyone can see Hamby, an officer says he can see the man's foot in the doorway.

As Guillen and others approach the house, they see movement from Hamby.

"Let me see you hands," he yells.

As they approach the house, another officer picks up the gun Hamby was carrying.

"Shotgun is away from the body," Guillen announces on his police radio.

"He's still moving. He's breathing," an officer says.

Another officer then says "82," signifying the gunman was in custody. Medical personnel are then called to move in, while other officers search the rest of the house.

At one point, Guillen asks which officers fired their weapons and tells them they now need to get out of the house.

According to the report from the attorney general's office, Hamby came out the front door with a .22-caliber rifle pointed at the officers. He ignored commands to put the gun down and then fired first, the report stated.

Two Davis County sheriff's deputies, Joshua McEwen and Neil Major, returned fire, according to the report. Hamby fell to the ground, but as he moved and apparently attempted to raise the gun again, McEwen fired a second time, along with Syracuse police officer Jennifer Walker.

Hamby died at a local hospital three days later.

The Davis County Sheriff's Office released a statement this week after the shooting was ruled to be justified.

"This has been a difficult situation for the involved officers and Mr. Hamby’s family. Hopefully all will find peace as they continue to heal emotionally from this incident," the statement read.

A third Syracuse officer was also wearing a body camera video that night, but the memory was full. Because of the incident, Syracuse police announced Thursday that a full review of the body camera program was conducted and all officers have been given extra memory cards, and new policies have been enacted.

"We determined there were systematic problems with how the video footage was downloaded. New procedures and methods have been enacted that have drastically reduced the amount of time it takes to download videos," according to a statement from the police department.

Syracuse police said they had purchased a different brand of body cameras that they anticipate "will substantially improve our body camera program."

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