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Body camera footage shows man raising handgun before St. Paul officers fire fatal shots

August 17, 2018

Body camera footage released by St. Paul police Friday shows that William Billy Hughes answered the door to his darkened duplex and raised a handgun before officers fatally shot him earlier this month.

Police Chief Todd Axtell said he released the video amid calls to transparency in the wake of the Aug. 5 shooting, when police were called to Hughes apartment for a report of shots fired.

I have the duty to our community, I have the duty to protect the integrity of this investigation and I have the duty to make sure our officers are not put in harms way due to misinformation spread on the streets, Axtell said shortly before playing the footage from officers Matthew Jones and Vincent Adams, who have since returned to duty.

The footage shows the officers walking up to the house in the 900 block of St. Anthony Avenue after police were called to the scene after a 911 caller told a dispatcher, Multiple gunshots, 905 St. Anthony on the second floor.

They enter the enclosed front porch and briefly conferred in the dark before knocking on the door to determine whether anyone had heard anything. A man can be heard saying I will kill you,andthinsp; Axtell said.

Hughes, 43, opens the door and walks onto the porch with a handgun in his right hand. The officers scream at him to put his hands in the air multiple times, and he begins raising the gun before the officers fire and Hughes falls to the ground, the gun still in his hand.

Goddammit, one of the officers exclaims as they report shots fired. The videos then end.

I want to close today by saying to the family of Mr. Hughes, I am so sorry for your loss. To the officers and their families, I am sorry that this situation chose you, and your lives now will forever be altered, Axtell said. And to our community, I hope these videos will provide context, perspective and clarity.

Axtell and Mayor Melvin Carter both announced last week that the video would be made public. The move came after Hughes family members, friends and supporters protested the previous night and demanded the release of bodycam footage, data from 911 calls and a third-party investigation into the shooting.

Search warrant affidavits filed earlier this week showed that Hughes reportedly fired two gunshots in the apartment in a fit of rage and then pointed the gun at his roommates head.

According to the affidavits: the roommate said Hughes fell out of his elevated bed, became angry and shot two or three rounds into the wall.

Hughes pointed the gun on the roommates head and started talking about the color of the roommates hat. The roommate fled and called police.

Court documents also show that Hughes reported texted relatives this past spring that he had contemplated suicide. They explained that Hughes had an ongoing medical condition that limited his quality of life. [Hughes] medical condition was diagnosed as a terminal illness, the affidavits said.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), which is investigating the shooting, has not disclosed what authorities believe transpired before police arrived.

According to the BCA: police entered an enclosed porch and knocked a door. Hughes emerged.

At one point the officers discharged their firearms, striking Hughes, the BCA said. Mr. Hughes was pronounced deceased at the scene.

A gun was recovered at the scene, the BCA said.

Family members said Hughes was a member of the White Earth Nation, and a cousin to Philip Quinn, who was fatally shot by St. Paul police in 2015.

When is it going to stop? Kathy Ficken, the aunt of Hughes and Quinn, said at last weeks vigil at the Minneapolis American Indian Center.

The BCA has not said whether one or both struck Hughes.

Chao Xiong 612-270-4708 Twitter: @ChaoStrib

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