Police Abuse

Dash Cam Released in Fatal Police Shooting That Was Ruled Justified, No 'Warrants' Mentioned at Inquest

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shot by cop
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Carl Storm, a police officer in Bourbon, Missouri, shot and killed Gary Wenzel at the end of an approximately 11-minute-long car chase. Storm said he noticed "improper" plates and found out Wenzel had "outstanding warrants." Dispatchers also apparently told Storm about Wenzel's history of violence with police—he was once accused of throwing a large rock at a patrol car while warning that bullets would only make him stronger, in 2001.

A jury for a coroner's inquest, which found the shooting justified, heard about Wenzel's alleged history, but it heard nothing about what kind of "warrants" led Storm the initiate a high speed pursuit. Neither did it hear from Storm himself. Officers who investigated the incident testified on Storm's testimony and report, which included that Wenzel's brother told him he was abusing meth at that he feared for his life and could not see Wenzel's hands when he fired.

Dashboard video (audio was not working or engaged), released by the Sullivan Journal, show Storm shooting Wenzel after the latter's car ended in a ditch. Wenzel was approaching the police vehicle, parked about 15 feet behind the ditched car, with his hands apparently visible when he was shot three times; in the thigh, chest, and head. Wenzel's family says he had drug convictions and prison time on his record but insist he was never convicted of assault on a law enforcement officer.

The family has retained an attorney they hope will be able to get more information on the incident. They want to know, for example, whether a Taser was available. It wasn't mentioned at the coroner's inquest, where the jury asks questions, either. And while investigators took a photo of Wenzel's body after he had died on the scene, his body had already been moved into an ambulance by then. An investigator could not explain at the inquest why it had already been moved. Watch an edited down version of the chase, via the Journal, below:

Bourbon Police Shooting from William on Vimeo.

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  1. And while investigators took a photo of Wenzel’s body after he had died on the scene, his body had already been moved into an ambulance by then. An investigator could not explain at the inquest why it had already been moved.

    And since there’s apparently no consequence to fucking up a crime scene…

    1. What crime scene? Since when is it against the law for a cop to shoot an unarmed person?

      1. The crime involved a man failing to obey an officer. There’s only one punishment befitting that crime.

  2. I always thought a license to kill was some spy thing.

    1. I still think they should have a limit of one, even if justified.

    2. But what about a license to ill?

      1. Paul’s Boutique – much better.

  3. What does it say about me that I’m getting less and less angry about this sort of thing? I just get incredibly depressed at this point. I need a drink or 10.

  4. Note to self: Don’t do anything around cops while being named Wenzel.

  5. I used to envision a hyperbolic scenario where a cop would walk into a nursery full of newborns, slather them with barbecue sauce, put on a bib, and eat them. I imagined that the cops and cop apologists would explain that we didn’t see the whole video, we had no idea what sorts of threatening motions the babies were making and how none of us could possibly understand the danger of being in a room full of delicious babies. I am not so sure this rises to hyperbole anymore.

  6. I don’t know guys. I agree whole-heartedly with the sentiment about out of control cops, but I think the video helps the cop more than hurts him here.

    The dude spent a good deal of his time driving in the wrong lane around blind curves and hills and could have easily killed someone. That tells you something about his judgement and self-preservation. He is close and moving very aggressively when he gets out of the car. I am not sure I can blame the cop for firing.

    Now, did he put one in his head after he was down? Hmmm…audio would have been nice, eh?

    1. I think the video helps the cop more than hurts him here.

      He gets out of his car and walks quickly to the cop car. With his hands held away from his body in plain view, completely empty.

      Its true that the very last second we don’t see anything, but so far I would say it hurts the cop. A lot.

      We don’t see the critical last second, but a shooting at that point would only be justified if the corpse had a weapon in his hand when he was shot. As none is mentioned, I assume none was found.

      Bad shoot. The guy couldn’t have posed an imminent risk of death or bodily harm to a cop sitting in his cruiser without a weapon.

      1. I’m not so sure.

        Most of the stories we see here are bad shoots, and maybe this one is too.

        However, if you were in a position where you had just witnessed someone doing something very anti-social and aggressive and that person turned and started quickly advancing on your position, undeterred by your holding a firearm and ordering him not to…

        I understand your concerns about cops and share them. However, I think we need to be careful that we aren’t seen as mindlessly anti-cop as opposed to being rationally anti-cop which is what I spend a good deal of time trying to sway my friends and family toward.

        My first question would be, why didn’t this cop break off pursuit when the chase could have clearly resulted in the deaths of innocents at any moment. And where is the audio? The timing of events in that last second would have been greatly clarified by audio.

        1. My first question would be, why didn’t this cop break off pursuit when the chase could have clearly resulted in the deaths of innocents at any moment

          This is the one thing you are saying that makes sense.

          and that person turned and started quickly advancing on your position, undeterred by your holding a firearm

          That’s no reason to fire, from what we saw. The cop is still in his car, and the guy is unarmed. What’s he going to do? Maybe he was on marijuana, and so had the strength of 25 men, and was going to pick up the cop car and throw it into a tree. That kind of stuff happens all of the time, according to the cops.

        2. you had just witnessed someone doing something very anti-social and aggressive and that person turned and started quickly advancing on your position, undeterred by your holding a firearm and ordering him not to

          I’m in my car, right? He doesn’t have a weapon, does he? In what way am I in imminent danger of death or bodily harm?

          Do you seriously believe that an “civilian” would walk in this situation?

          There are occasional shoots posted here that I think are probably good shoots. My standard, though, is whether anybody who wasn’t an LEO would satisfy the self-defense test. If I’m not in imminent danger, etc., then its damn sure the cop isn’t.

          The special case for cops is when they are in pursuit of a known violent felony suspect and shooting him is the only way to prevent his escape. Even assuming those warrants were for violent felonies, this guy isn’t trying to escape.

          1. Can’t believe I’m the one trying to stick up for the cop here. If you knew me, you’d realize how funny that was.

            I missed the part about being in the car. In that case, I would say he should have just backed up (or just rolled up the window), observed, and waited for help.

            I agree with your self-defense test. I guess that is what I was trying to apply here. If I was standing next to my car (which was my assumption) and an aggressive guy who had just demonstrated his willingness to harm himself or others started advancing on me, and (importantly) I had no way to retreat…I might shoot rather than depend on my Bruce Lee skills.

            Of course, good judgement by the cop early on would avoid the issue entirely.

    2. Hey look, it’s another one of Tulpa’s socks.

      1. Is Tulpa’s socks thing directed at me? Seriously?

        Believe me, I’m not a cop apologist. Check out the h/t on the story submitted about the cop beating up the old man in Humansville, MO.

        Also, check out my follow up above. Is that seriously the best you can do in this discussion?

        1. It’s better than you deserve Tulpa.

  7. Carl Storm? Really?

    With a comic book name like that how could he not shoot someone?

  8. Ok, here is what I see here. This dude was apparently pretty fucked up, or he was half British and couldn’t remember which side of the road to drive on.

    But two things that are wrong here. For one, a high speed chase, for what reason? If the guy wasn’t known to be armed and a real immediate threat to anyone(besides the driving, which the cop probably only made worse), then a high speed chase is insane. Just phone for backup and and head the guy off at the pass. Or just wait and find him later.

    2nd thing is obvious. So the guy is drunk and belligerent. Does that give the cops a license to get shoot him down? Guys car is already in the ditch, maybe out of gas. He’s out of the car, unarmed, and the cop is still in his car. Where is the imminent danger here to the cop? This story needs more details. There should be cameras on cop cars and cops from every possible angle, at all times.

  9. One more thing to keep in mind:

    Self-defense is an affirmative defense, and absent some kind of goofy law like in the Trayvon case (if memory serves, an initial showing by the prosecution that the affirmative defense is unsupported), the burden is on the defense to prove, generally with a preponderance of the evidence, that the shoot was justified.

    I see absolutely nothing in that video to support a self-defense claim. And the cop should have to prove the elements of self-defense. The bare facts (cop in car, no weapon on corpse) make a good self-defense claim here nearly impossible for him to prove up.

    Confident prediction:

    NOTHING ELSE WILL HAPPEN.

    I’ll give odds on that, if anyone cares to take the other side.

  10. My two cents. I’m torn on this.

    There are problems galore with this video compared to the testimony of the cop. The cop hurt himself by lying and saying he couldn’t see his hands. That’s clearly not true. Mark against the cop.

    However, when a chase terminates, I believe cops are supposed to exit their vehicle with guns drawn.

    The man did walk quickly towards the officer- we presume the officer ordered him to stop. Here’s where things get dicey:

    The deputy, wearing a bulletproof vest, had gone to the apartment building at 7311 Coal Creek Parkway S.E. in Newcastle, southeast of Bellevue, shortly after 5 p.m. in response to a report that a man was dodging cars in the street.

    Witnesses and police said the deputy approached the [naked, unarmed] man and sprayed him with pepper spray in an attempt to subdue him. The two scuffled and the man grabbed the officer’s gun.

    The deputy quickly realized he was in danger and began retreating, moving away from bystanders as if to draw any gunfire away from the crowd, according to a witness, William Dickerson. The man then repeatedly shot the deputy, who became the first law-enforcement officer to die in the line of duty in Washington this year.

    contd…

    1. It seems to me, that when you compare this incident with the officers shooting prone people in the back, shooting unarmed people in wheelchairs, beating unarmed, prone people to death, shooting unarmed people in the back who are walking away from the officer, and then slowly turn towards the officer because officer friendly is yelling [contradictory commands] at them, this one doesn’t seem quite so clear cut.

      It’s entirely possible that Wenzel fully intended to to scuffle with the officer and try to take his gun. And by the video, it looks like he had no intention of stopping before being within physical contact range of the officer.

      There are certainly other points to consider.

      I say the most damning evidence against the officer is the fact that you could clearly see Wenzel’s hands, and he was clearly unarmed.

      I don’t know what the officer training manual says at this point… should the officer back up and continue to keep distance to avoid a lethal encounter?

      I don’t know.

      Have at me fellow glibertarians.

      1. Have at me fellow glibertarians.

        You are a big, dumb poopyhead.

      2. He’s unarmed – get out the night stick and start swinging.

        The cop is supposed to know the *continuum* of force – and its not go from throwing fists to shooting people, there are steps in between.

    2. Forgot to add the clarifying remarks to my blockquote:

      The above is the account of deputy Herzog, killed by an unarmed naked man. From the classical libertarian perspective, Herzog did everything right. He attempted to subdue the unarmed man with non-lethal means. He even retreated away from bystanders to draw fire away from them. The point being, that an unarmed person can and does occasionally kill a police officer.

      1. Yeah, Pablo, it’s the occasionally part. Srsly. We hear so man bad-cop stories here, self-selecting bias and all, that be become cynical, perhaps jaded like Sug and you-know-who.

        But, also srsly, it’s much, much more likely for the police officer armed with pistol, club and spray to subdue, injure or kill unarmed suspects.

        The folks here are pretty good about evaluating things rationally, even despite the prevailing prejudice.

        1. Over the sad, regretful, pain-filled decades, I’ve kept a repository of news stories and factoids in my toolbelt to help me keep things in perspective.

          Whenever Reason/Balko posts an officer shooting of an unarmed person, I always keep Deputy Herzog in the back of my mind.

          For instance, when Ian Birk killed John T. Williams, a quick glance-back to Deputy Herzog’s story, and it was pretty clear the Birk committed cold-blooded murder.

          An agitated, hopped up man with his fists out and clenched walking towards the officer, and getting within a few feet, I think back to deputy Herzog and I say… mmmmmmeeeeeeehhhh, not so sure.

          1. I think this is what is causing me trouble with this story as well. There are so many horrible and less defensible versions of this story available (Reason/Balko, etc.) that I would never use this one as an example or argument with a non-libertarian audience…too easy to raise questions, especially for those predisposed to defer to authority.

            That doesn’t mean the officer was right.

      2. From the classical libertarian perspective, Herzog did everything right. He attempted to subdue the unarmed man with non-lethal means. He even retreated away from bystanders to draw fire away from them.

        No, he acted like an idiot. He let someone disarm him, and then he backed off instead of reacquiring control of his weapon. He was weak and incompetent.

        I don’t pay them huge amounts to be weak and incompetent. Cops should be trained in striking and grappling so that that kind of shit doesn’t happen. Having a defacto weapons free policy is not a substitute for proper training.

        I expect a police officer to be able to use his fists and less than lethal weaponry to subdue a violent but unarmed suspect. Just like I expect them to be able to pursue on foot without getting winded after 100 feet.

    3. Paulperiod, that there cop was a good cop. Maybe the last good cop.

      The only possible justification for the power we give them is that they are willing to risk and sacrifice their lives for us. The whole “occifer got home safe (except for the ankle he twisted climbing over the pile of corpses)” schtick is an abomination.

  11. In all of these situations I am amazed that there is absolutely no option to retreat if you are in law enforcement. Even when the “perp” is completely in the wrong, one would think that moving to de-escalate the situation when possible would be a good idea. Not so if you are in the “peace-keeping” business. Forward, forward… never retreat. Always be the aggressor. Always escalate force first and overwhelmingly.

    How many shootings could be avoided by simply ducking behind cover and talking a suspect down after spotting a “furtive movement”?

    That being said, it is usually the good cop who gets shot. Here in south Florida we had a couple of officers killed last year serving a simple arrest warrant. The police did the right thing and knocked on the door, spoke with mom and proceeded to walk back to retrieve their suspect from his bedroom. That’s when he came flying out guns ablaze – right past mom – and killed two police officers on the way to his death-by-cop. So thanks, asshole, not only did you kill two decent people for no good reason, you also got who knows how many more people killed by the police in the future because “they have a family to go home to”.

  12. Law enforcement should be held to a higher standard, but if some dude comes charging at me, even if he is unarmed he’s seeing the business end of a sidearm, he keeps coming and he’s catching lead until he stops, dies, or I run out of lead. If he’s close enough to me he won’t even get a warning, just the lead.

    Now when it comes to cops beating some homeless guy to death as he’s screaming for his father or shoots a supine retarded teenager to death with a shotgun on the side of the road, yeah. But a belligerent yelling man charging with hands balled into fists…. Umm, no.

    As far as the hands at his sides thing, anybody who thinks that is “non-threat” signaling is, well, stupid.

    I fucking loathe cops personally, I have enough of my own bad cop stories, but I don’t expect anybody to take a potentially mortal ass-whipping from an “unarmed” man.

    1. but I don’t expect anybody to take a potentially mortal ass-whipping from an “unarmed” man.

      And I’ll go farther and say that anybody who does expect others to do so is an asshole.

      1. Then I’m an asshole, because that’s the exactly the kind of risk we pay these people to take.

        I don’t expect them to lay down for it, but I expect them to risk it. If the risk comes to pass, well, you signed up for it. If you don’t want to take the risk, don’t be a cop.

    2. I agree. I’m as outraged as anyone with a lot of the stuff we see cops do here on this website. It’s unfortunate that there are so few people reporting that stuff. But yeah in this case based on the aggressive way that dude was coming at the cop after the reckless endangerment he had just displayed I’m giving the cop the benefit of the doubt on this one. If he came at me like that I’d shoot him in a heartbeat.

      1. As far as the high speed pursuit goes. It really pisses me off when I see a high speed pursuit over something trivial in and out of traffic. However, in this case I didn’t see any other cars on the road (true we didn’t see the whole video). Certainly doesn’t excuse Wenzel for driving over blind hills and curves in the wrong lane, but I really didn’t have a problem with the pursuit in that particular situation.

        1. When I tell people about some of the messed up stuff that cops do that is reported here most people are either very skeptical about whether they are hearing the whole story or they just outright defend the cops no matter what. I guarantee most people are not going to watch this video and say the cop was some cold blooded killer or that he shouldn’t have pursued this guy through BFE.

    3. if some dude comes charging at me, even if he is unarmed he’s seeing the business end of a sidearm, he keeps coming and he’s catching lead until he stops, dies, or I run out of lead.

      And if you’re sitting in your car, you will (and should) go to jail for it. That is not a good self-defense shoot WHEN YOU ARE SITTING IN YOUR CAR.

      1. I would bet that the cop was out of the car by then with weapon drawn. It’s dashcam, he’s not holding the camera.

      2. And if you’re sitting in your car, you will (and should) go to jail for it. That is not a good self-defense shoot WHEN YOU ARE SITTING IN YOUR CAR.

        How do you know he was still sitting in the car? Based on the approach path of Wenzel it seems pretty clear that Storm had exited his cruiser at about the same time Wenzel exited his vehicle and started approaching.

  13. Guess he aint all that afterall lol.

    http://www.Anon-VPN.com

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