FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (WDVM) — Just over three weeks after two Fairfax County officers shot and killed a suspect at the Springfield Town Center, the department is releasing body camera footage that provides new insight into what happened in the moments leading up to the shots being fired.
Christian Parker, 37, was wanted after he stole a gun from a family member, and fired a shot inside their home. Police attempted to arrest Parker at the Springfield Town Center’s parking lot, just outside of a Target.
Body camera footage shows Parker entering his car after spotting police, who blocked the car from the front and back. Then, Parker grabbed a semiautomatic handgun.
The footage shows the three responding officers telling Parker to “drop the gun” dozens of times. One officer even said, “I will shoot you.”
Parker never drops the gun, and police say one of the responding officers saw Parker “swing the gun from side to side with the barrel pointed in the direction of the officers.” That’s when two of the officers fired a total of eight shots, six hitting Parker. He was pronounced dead later at the hospital.
“Some folks will say, ‘You asked him to drop his gun 30 times. Why couldn’t you ask him 40 times? Or 50 times? I think the officers really showed a lot of restraint,” Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis said. “And they’re beginning him to drop his gun. And he just doesn’t.”
At a Friday afternoon press conference following the release of the body camera footage, Davis said his officers “were brave, I think they acted lawfully and in compliance with our policies and our communities expectations.”
“I think it’s objectively reasonable to consider that person a very dangerous – very dangerous to not only the police officers but to the shoppers and passerbyers and civilians,” Davis said.
Davis also explained that the legal standard does not require a suspect to point a gun at an officer before they fire — just whenever they feel danger is imminent.
“And a firearm in someone’s possession even if it’s held in a manner that’s not pointing at another human — action is faster than reaction,” he said. “And I can point it at you a whole lot faster than you can react to it.”
Davis said unlike other crisis calls, officers couldn’t tactically reposition, which would have given more space to allow for de-escalation, because there were families in the area.
“It would have afforded this gunman an opportunity to either get out of the car and potentially do a lot of harm to a lot of innocent folks,” he said.
The full body camera clip released by the police department, which does contain very graphic images, can be viewed here.