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Home  >  Topics  >  Less Lethal

May 08, 2014
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Video: Texas officer fatally shoots knife-wielding suspect

Video captures the fatal Nov. 4 shooting of a suspect holding a knife after officers deploy a TASER multiple times

By Mike Glenn
Houston Chronicle

ROSENBERG, Texas — A video released Wednesday shows the last few minutes in the life of Michael Blair who died in a hail of gunfire last year from a Fort Bend County sheriff's deputy.

In the last seconds of the video, Blair — holding a knife but already struck several times by a stun gun — appears to stumble toward the deputy standing in the bathroom doorway at the family's Rosenberg-area home.

The deputy shouts for the man to stop, then begins firing.

The video appears to show the deputy continuing to shoot almost a dozen times, the pistol following Blair as he collapses to the floor.

Anguished screams from family members can be heard as they are hustled out of the home.

Community activist Quanell X on Wednesday called the shooting "nothing less than a cold-blooded execution."

Blair's family gave the video to the Houston media and said they intended to hand over a copy to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

It was never provided to local investigators, so was not taken into account by a Fort Bend County grand jury that declined to issue an indictment in the case.

A Fort Bend County Sheriff's official said the department could not comment on something it hasn't seen.

"We consider it evidence and it needs to be turned over to the proper authorities," said sheriff's spokesman Bob Haenel.

The deputy, an 11-year veteran, was sent to the home in the 7000 block of Dawn Bloom on Nov. 4, because Blair had locked himself in a bathroom and was threatening to harm himself, officials said.

Blair's family said they called 911 only after several hospitals told them that was the proper course in the case of someone who was possibly suicidal.

"All this family wanted was somebody to help. This young man did not have to die," the activist said, standing outside the U.S. Attorney's Office in downtown Houston.

The video shows the deputy standing with another officer in front of a closed bathroom door.

"If you don't open this door, we're going to kick it in," the deputy said.

"We want to do this the easy way. Don't make us do it the hard way."

After several attempts jiggling the knob, the door opens slightly, allowing the deputy to see inside the bathroom.

"He's got a knife. He's got a knife," the deputy yells, as the doors shuts again.

He kicked open the door and shouted at Blair to "Stay down. Stay down."

He told the other officer to use the Taser and continued ordering Blair to drop the knife.

The video shows the deputy trying to coax Blair to disarm himself, telling him he didn't want to shoot him.

"We're trying to help you. Let it (the knife) go. Do it now," the deputy said.

The confrontation lasted about 20 minutes.

"All we're asking is that someone recognize what we recognize -- that was brutality," said Blair's mother, Kimberly Blair-Olaniyi.

Quanell X would not say why an apparently hidden camera was aimed at the bathroom door during the violent confrontation.

He said the family wanted to release the video after local investigations were concluded.

"These cases are always lies and truths are not told," he said. "We have a tape to expose those lying hypocrites."

The activist said the man's family wants a federal civil rights investigation into Blair's death and will likely file a lawsuit.

"We forgave that officer," Blair's mother said. "We want him to live a long life so he will always remember my son and how he murdered him in that bathroom."

The sheriff's office was creating a crisis intervention team and training the deputies to deal with mental health problems at the time Blair was fatally shot. Haenel said the 10-member team is now operational.


McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Copyright 2014 the Houston Chronicle






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