Fargo, ND – In the early hours of Sept. 28, a man in a parking lot was pointing a BB gun at a Fargo police officer. Yelling at the top of his lungs, the officer repeatedly ordered the man to drop the weapon, to no avail.
This tense situation is depicted in a video released to The Forum this week as a result of a public records request made last month.
The encounter ended with the officer, Patrick Thomas, shooting the man with the BB pistol, 31-year-old Karmen Redshirt. Authorities said the pistol had a laser light and looked like a real handgun.
Cameras in Thomas’ squad car captured the video that shows the officer pulling into the parking lot of the Pizza Hut at 4701 13th Ave. S., near the Fargo Wal-Mart. Thomas steps out of the car and right away starts shouting at Redshirt, telling him he’ll be fired upon if he doesn’t drop the gun.
The video shows that Thomas spent close to 40 seconds telling Redshirt to drop the gun.
Ultimately, Thomas fired three shots. One round hit Redshirt in the abdomen, causing a wound that required surgery and months of recovery.
Cass County State’s Attorney Birch Burdick determined that Officer Patrick Thomas was justified in firing on Karmen Redshirt in a south Fargo parking lot, according to a letter Burdick sent this week to the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, which investigated the Sept. 28 shooting.
“Although Redshirt’s weapon turned out to be a BB gun, there was no reason Thomas would know that,” wrote Burdick, who reviewed the BCI’s investigation report, which included squad car video and audio recordings.
Although the video was released, had it not been people would have been continuously stating that not enough was done on the part of the officer to stop this from happening. It was already stated by the suspects brother Cody Redshirt “That cop had no right to fire three rounds,”.
Many people in social media declared that the officer in fact had no right at all to shoot Redshirt since as it turns out Redshirt only had a BB gun as if Officer Thomas somehow knew that from the onset. That Thomas never gave Redshirt any chance to drop his BB gun to begin with or that the entire thing was a misunderstanding.
Let there be no mistake about this Thomas told Redshirt to drop the gun about 19 times as Thomas continued to RETREAT around his vehicle defensively – an act he was not required to do under the law. He went above and beyond to NOT fire his weapon and maintain distance and cover between himself and Redshirt who was obviously attempting to advance upon him to actually gain a REAL weapon to kill the officer with.
This is just another clear cut incident of a Police officer being attacked by a person who intended him harm, the officer defending himself and doing it properly. So much was made to do about the incident being a BB gun the officer defended himself against, yet who would have known that during the time?
There is obviously no other reason that the suspect was attempting to chase the officer around his vehicle than to engage him in a physical confrontation where he may overpower him and take his REAL weapon and use it against him.
After hearing 19 warnings to drop his own weapon he knew to be less than lethal and not doing so he continued to brandish it and move the officer like a chess piece hoping to gain some small advantage where he could either escape or overpower him.
Since he made no move to escape, it can only be assumed from an officer survival standpoint he was attempting to find a pivotal point to overpower him.
How differently would it have turned out had Redshirt been able to get a hold of the officers weapon as he was clearly trying to do.