Life is often bookmarked by key “firsts.” First date, first car, first job… At Viridian, we knew our first Officer Involved Shooting (OIS) involving a Law Enforcement Agency using our product was going to come at some point. We believe and market our product on the basis that any officer involved shooting event that takes place is likely to demonstrate the value and necessity of Weapon Mounted Cameras. But of course, nobody in law enforcement or within our Viridian team wants or hopes for such a tragic event to ever happen. Furthermore, there is no way to predict or anticipate where or when such a tragedy is going to occur. As Chief Legal Officer of the company, I have always had a small degree of anxiety about everything working as intended if and when that day comes.
Over several months on the market and with over 500 police agencies that have used our devices in various phases of testing and implementation, we had continually relayed that we have not had an OIS involving our WMC. That changed this past spring.
The phone call and text messages came in to our leadership team on a Sunday morning. A shooting had taken place in a small community in northern Texas that had fairly recently deployed our WMCs. The details described to us were that a warrant was being served on a high risk subject. The person was armed with a shot gun. At some point in the encounter, shots were fired at one of the officers. The officer returned fire and struck the subject. Fortunately, neither the officer nor subject suffered fatal injuries.
What we did learn from Police leadership is this: the agency also deployed dash cameras and body cameras. As we have analyzed as the statistical probability, we were told that while both were activated, neither captured a usable view of the shooting.
The police personnel also informed us that the involved officer’s WMC did pick up extremely effective video of the subject’s actions prior to returning fire.
We have not seen any of the footage at this point as the case remains under investigation and criminal prosecution. At some point, we believe the footage will be publicly released (and at that time we will share as appropriate). But we do know that the subject is now being prosecuted for attempted murder of a police officer and has already declined to press charges against the officers at the scene. The agency leadership informed us that the prosecuting officials credited the WMC with providing the critical evidence.
A tragic shooting event is nothing to give us any joy or celebration. Our product appears to have fulfilled its intended function to address what really happened in this event. We are not a flashy or exciting product for police departments and the community. But, at least in the first incident involving our WMCs, we were the critical product.