Concord, NC — In February, the family of Brandon Combs was shocked to hear their son had been killed by police following a "physical altercation." Since that day, they were forced to rely on the word of the officer and the department but after viewing the body camera footage, they have since learned that there was no altercation and Combs did not deserve to die.
Lawyers for Combs' family spoke out this week at a press conference to dispel any myths that he posed a threat to the officer who shot him. What's more, according to the attorneys, the officer who shot Combs — Officer Timothy Larson — put five bullets in him, called dispatch, and then fired once more, ensuring he killed the unarmed man.
Though Combs was in the act of committing a crime — attempting to steal a vehicle from a car dealership — the body camera footage shows the shots fired were entirely unnecessary.
As the Charlotte Observer reports:
Larson’s body-camera footage — which the lawyers say they first saw Thursday under a court order but which has not yet been released to the public — shows a short chase on foot in the car lot between the officer and suspect that ended when the unarmed Combs climbed into the driver’s seat of Larson’s police SUV, the lawyers allege in a statement.
When Larson, 27, arrived on the passenger side of his vehicle, he shot Combs five times through the windshield, the statement claims.
Larson then stopped momentarily to call in the shooting to his department. When the call ended, Larson shot the mortally wounded Combs again, civil rights attorney Harry Daniels told The Charlotte Observer on Monday.
According to the footage, when backup officers arrived on the scene, Larson told them that Combs was attempting to steal his police vehicle — another lie.
"We didn't hear [Larson] say he was threatened. We didn't hear him say he was afraid for his life. We didn't hear him say he tried to attack me. He didn't even say 'he put his hand on me and I had to defend myself,' we didn't hear any of that," said Chance Lynch, one of Combs's family lawyers.
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On Tuesday, the Concord police department terminated Larson's employment, indicating that the footage indeed shows what the attorneys are stating. It also shows that for over four months, the police department sat on the footage, knowing that it showed an officer commit a crime and they said nothing.
Combs’ death has not received the attention it deserves because the police department omitted relevant facts from its statement and presented the shooting as an “open-and-shut case,” Harry Daniels, an attorney for the Combs family said.
“We didn’t know anything until we saw (the video). We watched it in utter disbelief,” Daniels said. “The most disturbing thing is not the unjustified use of deadly force, but that (Larson) paused and then used deadly force again. The first five shots were bad enough. The last shot was overkill, man. It was overkill. I can’t make sense of it.”
The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation looked into the shooting and questioned Larson about his actions. According to a notice of dismissal used to terminate Larson, the officer gave investigators false information in regards to the shooting.
"The fact that the Concord Police Department would issue a statement that completely contradicts what happened, that's concerning," said Lynch. "We're demanding transparency, we're demanding accountability."
Combs family and the attorneys are now calling for Larson to be charged for his death.
"If you shoot someone unjustifiably, it is an unlawful homicide," said Daniels. "If it was me, Chance, or anyone else here who committed these acts, we would be in Cabarrus County jail with no bond. It's time for the District Attorney to take a stance if she's tough on crime."
"They took my son. They murdered him in cold blood," said Virginia Tayara, Combs's mother with tears in her eyes. "I just want the officer held accountable and I want the city of Concord to make some changes in how they make police business."