OGDEN, Utah, May 28, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — Felony charges were filed on Tuesday against a Harrisville man who was shot multiple times by law enforcement officials responding to a domestic violence call.
Charged is Jamal Samuel Bell, 28.
At 5:26 a.m. on March 23 of this year, police responded to the call and found Bell inside the residence, an apartment complex at 2510 N. Charleston Ave.
“Upon arrival, officers were confronted by a male subject wielding a knife in each hand,” said a Harrisville Police Department statement released after the incident.
“The subject advanced on the officers despite repeated commands to stop. A Taser deployment failed, and the subject was shot multiple times. He was taken by Northview Fire to McKay Dee Hospital in critical condition.”
A multi-agency task force, led by the Weber County Attorney’s Office, conducted an Officer Involved Critical Incident investigation to determine if the use of force was justified, and judged it to be justified.
Bell was charged with four counts of assault against a peace officer, a second-degree felony; and one count of criminal mischief — intentional damage or destruction of property, a class A misdemeanor.
Charging documents classified threatening officers as a form of assault.
A probable cause statement filed by the Weber County Deputy Attorney says that three officers, one each from Pleasant View, North Ogden, and Harrisville, were first on the scene, and were told by the complainant “that this had been an ongoing problem between the two (Bell and his girlfriend).
“The complainant said that the argument appeared to turn physical while the couple was outside the complex in the parking lot.
“The complainant could see the male grab the female in a bear hug, and saw the female physically punching the male. This action by the couple led the complainant to make the 911 call.”
Officers went to the apartment and found the door had been forced open.
“The dead bolt to the door was engaged indicating that the dead bolt had been activated prior to the door being forced open,” the statement says. “The wooden door jamb had been broken off the frame and was eventually found inside the apartment.”
Officers pushed the door open but did not enter, the probable cause statement says. An officer from the Pleasant View Police Department “called out several times for the occupants inside the apartment to acknowledge, but there was no response,” the statement says.
“Both officers (the second from Harrisville PD) remained just outside the threshold of the door. From their position in the doorway, they could see a knife on the tile floor just inside the door, as well as property, which appeared broken and/or knocked over in the living room area.”
Body camera footage released later shows Bell advancing on police, then retreating back into the apartment.
“Bell had two large knives, one in each hand, and what was described as a ‘glare’ on his face,” the statement says. “Bell walked directly toward the officers but did not say anything to them.
The officers pulled their firearms from their holsters, then one traded out his gun for a Taser. The video shows Bell advancing on the officers several times, and the officers retreating, then advancing again as Bell went back into the apartment. When the officer with a Taser fired it, it didn’t make full contact with Bell, so it was not effective.
Ultimately, officers ordered Bell to drop the knives 18 times, the probable cause statement says.
After being told he would be shot if he advanced, Bell took two more steps toward the officers, and was shot multiple times — with the exact number of shots and hits unspecified — by three officers, the statement says.
Bell was treated at McKay-Dee Hospital and survived his numerous injuries. Bell has told reporters he was hit by 11 bullets.
The woman with Bell in the apartment, who had locked herself into a back room, was interviewed after the suspect was transported, the statement says.
She told police that she and Bell had been in a relationship for nine years, but were in the process of separating. She said that Bell came home intoxicated, and they started to argue, and that Bell broke her phone. After she locked Bell out, he broke in the door, she reportedly told officers.
The officers who were on scene and active were later interviewed. Two were from the Harrisville Police Department, one from the Pleasant View Police Department and one from the North Ogden Police Department.
A warrant for Bell’s arrest was awaiting approval as of Tuesday evening.
The body camera video
The bodycam video is full of graphic images many will find disturbing. It shows the shooting, and an extended period of Bell groaning and wailing in extreme pain. Officers use expletive-laced language.
It shows action, including officers yelling through a previously broken door, and encountering Bell, who is holding knives. They unsuccessfully use a Taser on him, then fire on him over a period of four to five seconds.
With Bell on the floor, the video continues as officers summon an ambulance crew, then try to ease Bell’s labored breathing by changing his position. One officer calls him “buddy,” and urges him to stay with them.
In this video, we see Bell being loaded onto a stretcher for transport to McKay-Dee Hospital, and on-scene officers asking each other if they are OK. One officer hugs another. The officer wearing the camera debriefs to another officer, then heads to his patrol car.
To view the unedited body camera recording, click on the player below.