Dashcam Released of Arkansas Police Slayings
An Arkansas Wildlife officer takes cover during a shootout in Crittenden County, Arkansas.
The Commercial Appeal via YellowBrix
July 01, 2010
JONESBORO, Ark. — From the cab of his FedEx truck, Vincent Brown had a bird’s-eye view of the shooting that killed two West Memphis police officers on May 20.
A short video clip from an officer’s dashboard camera released Wednesday shows 16-year-old Joe Kane in a red T-shirt slowly open the passenger-side door of a 1994 white Plymouth Voyager van and wield an AK-47 assault rifle. Within seconds. he vanishes from the camera’s view.
But Brown’s account, which is part of a 240-page preliminary report from the Arkansas State Police, fills in the gaps.
The truck driver’s rig was parked behind the two police cars on the off ramp at mile marker 275 on Interstate 40.
Brown couldn’t hear the shots because of his tractor- trailer’s engine. But he told investigators the chilling scene he witnessed:
It began, he said, when a “potbelly guy” driving the van – Jerry Kane Jr. – suddenly pushed Officer Bill Evans down an embankment and into a ditch.
Then Joe Kane – “a skinny kid” as Brown identified him – came out of nowhere with what appeared to be an automatic weapon with a long clip. He began to fire.
Brown said Evans tried to draw his weapon with one hand and extended the other in front of himself as if to say: Stop.
Sgt. Brandon Paudert, who’d arrived as backup for Evans, took cover behind his partner’s Chevy Tahoe. But it appeared that Joe “timed it just right” to shoot Paudert in the head, Brown told investigators, and then stood over his body as the officer lay in the roadway.
Both Kanes got back in the van. The video clip shows Joe firing four more rounds of the AK-47 out of the van’s passenger-side window in the direction of Evans as his father slowly drove away.
A crime-scene report said Paudert lay on his back, head pointed west, feet toward the east, with his semi-automatic weapon in his right hand. He had a “large, gaping wound extending from his chin to the top of his skull.”
Evans was taken to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead. His bullet-proof vest, shredded by gunfire, lay in the ditch along with his handheld police radio.
Mike Walden, prosecuting attorney for the 2nd Judicial District in Arkansas, said Wednesday that officers involved in a second shootout that killed the Kanes 90 minutes later in the Walmart parking lot, were justified and that he didn’t anticipate filing any charges.
Police recovered 144 shell casings from various weapons — pistols, rifles and shotguns — at the Walmart crime scene.
Some officers told state police officials that Joe Kane still had his finger on the trigger of his weapon when his body was pulled from the van.
Crittenden County Sheriff Dick Busby and Chief Deputy W.A. Wren were wounded in the second firefight. Busby recovered from a bullet wound to the shoulder.
Wren has been in a rehabilitation center in Jonesboro since his release from the Regional Medical Center at Memphis. He could be released as soon as Friday.
Raw Video: First Shootout in Which West Memphis Officers Were Killed
Raw Video: Second Shootout in Walmart Parking Lot in Which Suspects Were Killed
Prosecuting attorney Walden said if the Kanes had survived they would have faced capital murder charges in the deaths of Evans and Paudert.
The investigation is ongoing because material from the FBI and the Arkansas State Crime Lab has yet to be reviewed. Walden released the preliminary report because of the amount of media inquiries and public interest in the case.
Investigators determined that Joe Kane wielded the AK-47 while his father had a Taurus 45/LC 410 revolver.
The evidence log in the preliminary report shows that police recovered ammunition from the Kanes’ van along with a marijuana brick, rolling papers, a scale and screens with burnt marijuana cigarettes behind the passenger seat. They also found hotel receipts, CDs titled “Banks Do Not Loan Money” and $301, among other items.
West Memphis Police Chief Bob Paudert, Brandon’s father, took his wife and Brandon’s family to Florida this week to escape the media coverage of the investigative report’s release.
He hasn’t seen the dash camera video or read the report. A state investigator briefed him on a few details.
“I have mixed emotions about looking at the video,” he said. "I probably need to as a chief, but as a father it’s going to be very difficult.
“It’s the last few minutes of Brandon and Bill’s life. Everyone keeps saying I’m strong, but I’m not strong. This has had a major impact on me.”
Staff reporters Cindy Wolff, Jody Callahan and Kevin McKenzie contributed to this report.
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Copyright © 2010, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn.
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