Three Police Body Cameras Malfunction During Fatal Flag Police Shooting

Flagstaff Police Department MEDIA RELEASE :

On 7-13-16, at approximately 4:00 AM, an Officer with the Flagstaff Police Department was involved in a shooting near the intersection of N. Clear View Dr. and E. Circle View Dr. in Flagstaff, AZ. This shooting followed the investigation into a 911 call near the 1500 block of E. Rt. 66. The 911 call to the Flagstaff Police Departments Emergency Communications Center was from an open line which may have been dialed by accident. Officers of the Flagstaff Police Department routinely respond to 911 hang-up calls to ensure public safety.

Officer Melissa Seay and Officer Zachary Syers responded to the call. Ofc Seay arrived first and saw two females and one male inside a vehicle in the parking lot of the Relax Inn. An additional female was seen standing in the parking lot but near the vehicle. Unbeknownst to the Officer the subjects had just conducted a drug transaction immediately prior to her arrival. Officer Seay contacted the individuals and obtained the identification information they provided and conducted a wants and warrants check on them. She verified that there was a warrant for arrest for the male suspect with the name and date of birth he provided to her.

Officer Syers then arrived to assist and both Officers asked the Caucasian male suspect to step out of the vehicle to affect a lawful arrest. The suspect then informed the Officers he had lied to them and provided them false identification information (the basis for an additional criminal charge). The Officers attempted to place him in handcuffs but he resisted and reached for a firearm in a holster on his beltline. Both Officers stepped back from the threat and drew their firearms. The suspect used this opportunity to flee while drawing his weapon and running away with the weapon in his right hand. Officers could hear the clinking noise of metal on metal as the suspect climbed over a fence and ran in a northerly direction. The Officers lost sight of the suspect for a short time after he scaled the fence.

Officers called for assistance and provided a description of the suspect and the firearm as they pursued him. Corporal Michael Lavelle responded to help. He spotted the suspect and began pursuing him into a dark residential area. Cpl. Lavelle and Officer Seay located the suspect hiding behind a vehicle in a driveway on N. Clear View Dr.

Cpl. Lavelle and Officer Seay identified themselves as police officers and made multiple requests for the suspect to step out from behind the vehicle with his hands up. The suspect was non-compliant. Ofc Seay told the suspect to show his hands or he could be shot. The suspect replied, “Just f***ing do it. Just do it.” The suspect then stepped out from behind the vehicle but refused to place his hands up as directed. He reached quickly toward his beltline where the Officers had previously seen the firearm. Cpl. Lavelle, fearing for his own safety and the safety of other officer, fired his weapon five times. The suspect was struck by three rounds and fell to the ground.

Cpl. Lavelle and Ofc Seay called for emergency medical assistance. Additional Officers and Deputies arrived and the suspect was placed in handcuffs. At this time Officers saw that the suspect was no longer armed but was still wearing the holster. Officers moved the suspect to the street so emergency life-saving measures could be provided. Officers and Deputies began providing emergency aid. Medical Personnel arrived on scene and took over care but were unable to revive the suspect. He was pronounced deceased on scene.

The suspect was identified as Donald S. Myers, 32 years of age of Flagstaff, AZ. It was recognized that Mr. Myers had provided false information when speaking to Ofc Seay not realizing the person’s identification he used had a valid warrant for his arrest. It was discovered that Mr. Myers also had valid misdemeanor warrants for his arrest.

The Northern Arizona Officer Involved Shoot Team was called to investigate. Additional assistance from the Coconino County Search and Rescue team was provided. Investigators used K-9’s to search for the firearm.

During the investigation of the scene one of the K-9’s located a Desert Eagle 44 Magnum semi-automatic handgun. This firearm matched the description of the gun seen by Officers and was within the path the suspect travelled when he fled from police.
Further investigation revealed that Mr. Myers had previously expressed anger toward police on multiple occasions over recent family contacts with police. The investigation also revealed the Mr. Myers regularly carried this firearm on his person.
No Officers were injured during the incident.

At this time the criminal case is being investigated by the Northern Arizona Officer Involved Shoot Team with Coconino County Sheriff’s Office acting as the lead agency. The Flagstaff Police Department will be conducting an internal investigation to determine if policies and procedures were followed. Ofc Seay and Ofc Syers were equipped with body cameras. Due to technical issues no footage was recorded of the initial contact at the car; Ofc Syers’ camera malfunctioned due to a battery issue and Ofc Seay’s connector cable became detached prior to the incident. Due to the intensity of the moment, Cpl. Lavelle did not activate his camera prior to the shooting. After he fired his weapon, he realized his camera was not operating and immediately activated the camera. The TASER Axon cameras utilized by the Flagstaff Police Department capture 30 seconds of video from the pre-event buffer when an officer activates the camera. This first thirty seconds is video only with no audio. As a result, the shooting was captured on video without the audio for the first 30 seconds.

Due to the graphic nature of the video and the privacy rights of the suspect and his family the complete video will not be released. Redacted video footage will be released showing the Officer’s actions immediately preceding the shooting. This footage and a condensed version of the radio traffic from the officers and dispatch will be loaded on the Flagstaff Police Department’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/FlagstaffPoliceDepartment/.

More information may be released as the investigation progresses.

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