Four of the five Janesville police officers who were at the scene of a March police shooting did not have their body cameras on and/or recording, Police Chief Dave Moore said.
The only officer body camera footage of the scene leading up to and during the shooting itself is partially or at times almost entirely obscured by part of the officer’s uniform, something Moore said he had not seen happen before.
Moore said in an interview with The Gazette that the March 26 shooting happened during shift change, which largely accounted for other officers not having their cameras ready and recording.
The police chief Monday released his findings from the department’s internal investigation that found officer Lyle Hollingshead was justified in using deadly force when he shot Christian A. Cargill of Owasso, Oklahoma, after a crash off Interstate 90/39 near Highway 14.
Hollingshead shot Cargill twice—once in his left thigh and once in his right shoulder—after he and other officers said Cargill, who survived the shooting, turned back toward police and came at them with a knife.
In the video footage released Monday, nothing but Hollingshead’s uniform is visible when the officer fired his shots.
Moore pointed to other unsuccessful efforts by Hollingshead and officers from other departments to defuse the situation before Hollingshead used deadly force. They included seven failed attempts to use a Taser, a 40 mm rubber-tipped round, pepper spray and repeated commands and pleas from officers.
“So my conclusion in the findings of the internal investigation concludes that officer Hollingshead followed department policy, training and used deadly force in a proper, ethical and constitutionally appropriate manner,” Moore said in the video statement. “Other officers at the scene responded properly, following department policy and department training.”
At the same time, the department’s investigation found areas to improve or change policies, procedures or training—such as on-body camera activation.
Rock County District Attorney David O’Leary also said the shooting was justified and complied with the law guiding use of deadly force.
The county’s top prosecutor and Janesville police also chose not to criminally charge Cargill, who is in Oklahoma working on mental health problems.
Video shows Cargill’s Dodge Ram pickup truck and the travel trailer he had been living in careening off the Interstate at about 2:45 p.m. March 26 and down a hill by Highway 14.
Moore emphasized that the area was wet and muddy because it had rained earlier.
Those details matter, the chief said, because officers had to navigate challenging terrain as they followed Cargill up the hill to keep him from reaching the Interstate, where he might be a greater danger to himself and passersby. When Cargill turned around with his knife, Moore said it was hard for officers to retreat down the hill.
The entire incident until Hollingshead fired his gun took about six minutes.
Although the only police video of events leading up to the shooting is partially obstructed, the audio is available.
Hollingshead and other officers can be heard telling Cargill to drop the knife several times as they worry about Cargill moving to a more dangerous area—the Interstate—where other people could be struck if an officer fired his gun and missed.
“Drop the knife or you will be shot. Sir, drop the knife,” Hollingshead said. “Sir, sir, drop the knife, please. I want to help you, please. Please. I want to help you. My name is Lyle. What’s your name?”
“Please let me help you out,” he later said. “I’m begging you.”
Moore was not certain why all seven of the attempts to use a Taser failed. He said it could have been the distance, or perhaps the Taser didn’t connect well enough to bring Cargill down.
“This was a fluid/moving circumstance with a suspect brandishing a deadly weapon,” Moore said in a follow-up email. “Officers needed to keep their distance yet tried to deploy the Taser.”
He said police can always learn from situations such as the shooting.
“I’m not surprised that we identified some areas that we need to work on,” he said. “In fact, I would suggest that if you get something this involved and this complex and you don’t find something you can improve upon, you may not have taken a real critical look at the matter.”
In his video statement, Moore shared five training, policy or procedure changes he wants to see from his department:
- Further training on body camera activation.
- Further training on Taser use.
- More 40 mm rubber-tipped round launching systems that can help knock people down. Moore said the department had one but has added eight more to increase their availability.
- Having one officer be the point of contact at a scene to avoid having many officers giving instructions at once, which can be confusing.
- Keeping more thorough, detailed records on when officers complete their trainings.
In breaking down why various officers didn’t have their body cameras on and recording before the shooting, Moore made these points:
- A sergeant was finished with his shift and had taken off his gear, but he rushed out to bring the 40 mm launcher when it was requested, without wearing his camera.
- One officer had his camera, but it was not hooked up to the battery pack.
- Another officer did not push the record button.
- Another officer wore his camera but did not turn on the battery pack, meaning he hit the record button, but the video did not record.
Moore attributes that to the timing of the call, which came in around shift change before full checks could be completed.
He said the department is not at the point where it is going to discipline the officers. He said department leaders will reinforce the training, and if they keep seeing errors, perhaps discipline could come later.
Moore added that supervisors are checking that incidents are being recorded.
“Most of the times, these guys have them on,” he said.
Regarding Hollingshead’s camera being obstructed by his uniform, Moore said they need to look at where cameras are placed on officers. Still, he said, he had not seen something like that happen before.
“It wasn’t ideal,” he said.
Correction: This story was updated later Monday afternoon when Chief Dave Moore gave new information on where Cargill was shot on his body.