Newly released Raleigh police video offers more perspective on killing of Daniel Turcios
Video released Friday afternoon shows new angles of Daniel Turcios being tased and shot by Raleigh police after a car crash alongside Interstate 440 on January 11. Activists for police reform blame Raleigh police officers for escalating the situation, saying it could have been avoided.
Raleigh Police Chief Estella Patterson petitioned the North Carolina Superior Court for the release. Under North Carolina law, police camera footage may only be authorized for release by a judge. Sixteen raw, unedited videos were released, plus one summary video which slows down certain moments and adds slides with written captions. There are minor redactions, including the blurring of a minor's face and the blurring of Turcios' face and body after he is initially tased.
The following YouTube video was edited and released by the Raleigh Police Department on Feb. 4, 2022, after a North Carolina Superior Court judge authorized the release.
Events escalate quickly. At first, police officers are speaking with witnesses, while first responders tend to those who are injured. An officer listens while one witness tells him the vehicle passed him very quickly on the highway.
"I was doing about 65, 68 [mp/h] and he passed me like I was standing still," the witness can be heard on the video. "He almost hit the side of my truck. I bet he wasn't but two inches from me when he went by me."
First responders stand calmly by the overturned vehicle when at one point someone says, "this guy's got a knife." The situation becomes far more tense. First responders can be seen backing away as officers reach for their weapons. Less than 60 seconds later, the first gunshots are fired.
The videos show Turcios holding a knife, a pocket knife with a blade about three inches long, in his right hand and arguing with his wife, Rosa Jerez, while first responders tended to a young child in the shadow of the overturned vehicle. Officers yell at Turcios to "put the knife down," but it's unclear if he understands the commands.
Turcios pulls up the young child and Jerez appears to try to take the knife from Turcios. "My love, give that to me," she says in Spanish. Seconds later she asks again, "Give it to me, please."
Turcios switches it to his left hand while holding the child's arm in his right hand and begins to walk away from the overturned vehicle. Jerez follows the two and grasps the child's right hand in her left, lightly pulling the child back. For a couple of seconds, Turcios and Jerez speak to each other in Spanish before she moves around the back of the child and pulls his torso toward her.
Turcios lets go and walks away. Four seconds after he releases the child, an officer shoots Turcios in the back with a Taser weapon. Turcios falls face forward toward the ground, landing limply on his left shoulder.
Officers surround Turcios, who jolts upward and swings his left arm — which is holding the knife — around in the direction of an officer's head, who jumps backward. A second officer then fires his weapon at Turcios twice and he falls down. About five seconds later, Turcios tries to stand up and the same officer fires three more times while Turcios is on one knee. Turcios falls again and lays motionless on his back while police and first responders surround him.
Jerez can be heard screaming and she briefly walks toward Turcios before an officer guides her in the opposite direction. Turcios was taken to WakeMed Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Activists with EmancipateNC, a criminal justice advocacy organization, blamed Raleigh police officers for the killing. After seeing the footage released Friday afternoon, Kerwin Pittman, the Emancipate NC director of policy and program, called the shooting "clearly a murder that could have been prevented."
Pittman says the officers "escalated" the interaction when Turcios was walking away from the overturned vehicle by himself, not toward any officers, and was hit with a taser in the back.
"Why couldn't de-escalation measures have been taken?" he said. "There was clearly a language barrier at play."
The State Bureau of Investigation is leading the investigation into the incident. The agency will turn all materials over to Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman, who will make a determination about pressing charges against any officers involved. The SBI confirmed Friday that the investigation was ongoing.