Baltimore, MD – Police released bodycam video on Monday from one officer at a September shooting scene that left another officer wounded and the gunman dead (video below).
Bodycam video was not available from the wounded officer because his bodycam was destroyed when he was shot in the chest, WBAL reported.
The incident began just before 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 23, when Baltimore Police Officers Phillip Lippe and Steven Foster began following 29-year-old Nathaniel Sassafras, who was on foot.
There had been two shootings in the neighborhood the prior week, and Interim Baltimore Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle said the officers were there patrolling as a part of an ongoing “crime suppression initiative,” the Baltimore Sun reported.
Officer Foster stopped the car in the rear of the 800-block of Vine Street in the Poppleton neighborhood, and both officers got out of the car, the Baltimore Sun reported.
Bodycam video from Officer Foster showed Sassafras began shooting at the officers as soon as they exited the patrol car.
Officer Lippe was hit twice in his body armor, once in the chest and once in the arm, WBAL reported.
Baltimore Police Spokesman T.J. Smith said Thursday that the bodycam worn by Officer Lippe was struck by a bullet and so severely damaged that the video could not be retrieved, according to the Associated Press.
Officer Foster’s bodycam showed that when he jumped out of the driver’s seat, Sassafras was already down on the ground with a gun in his right hand, firing at Officer Lippe.
Both officers returned fire. Officer Foster was not wounded in the gun battle.
“Shots fired! Shots fired!” Officer Foster yelled into his radio as the gunfight between his partner and Sassafras raged on, and more than two dozen shots rang out.
Then he reloaded his duty weapon and went to rejoin the gun battle.
After the shootout, Officer Lippe took cover behind the car with Officer Foster, warning his partner that Sassafras was still moving, the video showed.
“I’m good. I’m good!” Officer Lippe told Officer Foster. “Take cover. Cover! Cover down. Cover down.”
“Get back bro, he’s down,” Officer Foster replied.
“He’s moving! He’s moving!” Officer Lippe yelled, keeping his weapon trained on Sassafras.
Officer Foster radioed dispatch again and told them an officer was hit.
Once Sassafras stopped moving, Officer Foster unbuttoned the wounded officer’s shirt to check for damage.
In the video, two bullet holes were clearly visible in the vest carrier.
“Let me get a freakin medic!” Officer Foster yelled into his radio, sounding borderline hysterical.
Officer Lippe sought to reassure his partner that he wasn’t badly hurt.
“I’m good. I’m good. I’m good,” he repeated as Officer Foster yelled at him to holster his weapon.
In the video, a woman appeared at the mouth of the alley, and Officer Foster yelled to ask her what street they were on.
Shortly thereafter, the scene became chaotic as neighbors and passersby approached to find out what was happening.
“Phil, stop. Are you hit?” Officer Foster asked.
“My arm’s f--ked,” Officer Lippe replied in the video, as his partner dug around his vest trying to assess the injuries.
“I’m good, I’m good. Check him! Get that gun away,” Officer Lippe told Officer Foster, pointing at a gun lying on the ground next to Sassafras. “Get that f--king gun away.”
The video showed Officer Foster walked over to where Sassafras was lying.
WBAL reported that Sassafras had been carrying a handgun with an obliterated serial number and a laser when he opened fire on the officers.
He fired 10 shots at the officers before he was neutralized, according to WBAL.
At that point in the video, sirens could be heard approaching in the background. Officer Foster told Officer Lippe to get in the back of their cruiser, in anticipation of racing his partner to the hospital as soon as backup arrived.
Officer Lippe said he was okay and was going to wait for the medics.
Officer Foster sounded as if he was going to argue, but then he got busy handling crowd control instead, and Officer Lippe assisted him.
When medics arrived, Officer Lippe was transported to University of Maryland Shock Trauma where he was treated, and has since been released, the Baltimore Sun reported.
A Department of Corrections spokesperson said that Sassafras had been paroled in January after serving 14 years of a 20-year sentence for a 2004 murder conviction, the Baltimore Sun reported.
At age 15, Sassafras shot 22-year-old Jason Baughman multiple times in front of a convenience store. He was also suspected in another murder a month later, but those charges were later dropped.
You can see the gunfight in the video below: