Evansville, IN — Daniel Wooters, 38, was homeless and likely mentally ill when he was killed by Evansville police. In March of this year, Wooters stole a police cruiser, led cops on a chase, crashed the car, and was then killed as he held a knife in the air — over 30 feet away from the nearest officer.
In spite of the incident happening in March, the body cam video was not released until this month, likely due to the reason that it does not fit their narrative.
As the Courier Press Reports:
Police were in route to TGI Friday’s at the Eastland Mall March 15 to look for a man who, according to a mall security guard, “threatened to kill people.”
By the time police arrived, Wooters had walked to the Fifth-Third Bank parking lot, where a uniformed officer approached him. According to police, Wooters advanced at the officer with a knife and stole the officer’s car, leading other arriving officers on a chase up Morgan Avenue.
Video of this first “advance” is unavailable and, given the reaction to the second advance, is very unlikely.
According to the police report, as the chase came to an end, Wooters “advanced” toward officers with a knife, causing multiple officers, all armed with guns, 30 feet away, to all fear for their lives and open fire on the man. However, as the video shows, Wooters got out of the stolen car, put his hands in the air, barely took two slow steps, stopped, gestured with his hand, and was executed.
Wooters was not moving forward when cops opened fire.
“With the totality of the circumstances, he just carjacked a marked police car at knifepoint,”Police Sgt. Jason Cullum said. “We do try to do things to de-escalate the situation. … This is not a situation where we walked up to a guy holding a knife.”
Cullum said that Wooters refused the officers’ commands to drop the knife, but the shots came almost immediately after the orders.
According to the Courier Press, three officers fired 11 shots at Wooters. He was hit seven times. The officers who discharged their weapons were Jason Thomas, 16 years of service; Zach Elfreich, 10 years of service; and Dexter Wolf, two years of service.
“The video verifies the information we put out initially,” Cullum said Friday. But it simply does not.
Cullum went on to praise his department for not charging the media $150 for the body cam footage. Under a new and ridiculous state law, police departments can now charge the media exorbitant fees for requesting body cam or dash camera footage. But, this was a moot point as the Courier Press requested the video in March — four months before the law was passed.
“When the police take someone’s life, that is the most controversial thing, if you will, that can happen. A lot of people have a lot of questions,” Cullum said. “We want to be transparent in what happened that night. We don’t want there to be an obstacle in our transparency.”
Wooters was a troubled man, who more than likely needed to be taken off the streets that fateful night. However, it was not up to the police to play the role of executioner.