Newly released camera footage shows how the Raleigh police officer who came closest to being injured on May 7—as Reuel Rodriguez-Nunez, 37, threw Molotov cocktails at police—goaded Rodriguez-Nunez into continuing his attack just before he was shot and killed.
Master Officer P.W. Coates, who was wearing body camera 3 and standing closest to Nunez, shouted at him to “Do it! Do it!” as Rodriguez-Nunez held a Molotov cocktail in his hand.
“Go ahead, go ahead motherf***er do it! Do it!” Coates shouted, his gun drawn. “Go a-f***ing-head. Go right f***ing ahead. Go ahead motherf***er, do it, do it.”
Coates tells the other officers to “give me the go ahead,” presumably referring to the go ahead to shoot Rodriguez-Nunez.
Ordered by Coates (although ignoring other police officers who were ordering him to stop and take his hands out of his pockets), Rodriguez-Nunez indeed “does it,” lighting a Molotov cocktail and preparing to throw it toward the officer.
Raleigh police officers opened fire as Rodriguez-Nunez drew his arm back, letting fly with more than 30 rounds in a series of rapid gunshots. As Rodriguez-Nunez fell the ground, the Molotov cocktail landed near Coates, missing him as he ran out of the way.
Coates was one of four Raleigh police officers to surround Rodriguez-Nunez, guns drawn, toward the end of a roughly 7-minute confrontation early last month.
The video, which includes surveillance, dash camera, and body camera footage, was released to the public Thursday afternoon, after Rodriguez-Nunez’s family had a chance to review it. A judge ordered the footage released during a hearing last week in which both the family, represented by Emancipate NC, and the police petitioned for its publication.
Whether Rodriguez-Nunez struggled with his mental health is unclear. One family member told WRAL that Rodriguez-Nunez had recently been incarcerated and suffered from mental health issues.
Kerwin Pittman, a local activist, says the camera footage shows “this was clearly a man in distress.”
“It was like he went there with the intention of his demise,” Pittman told the INDY, adding that a mental health crisis response unit may have been able to mitigate the situation. “The ACORNS unit (Raleigh’s crisis team) responds after a crisis has happened. If it was proactive instead of reactive it could have saved this man’s life.”
Dawn Blagrove, executive director of Emancipate NC, expressed similar concerns, saying Rodriguez-Nunez “is clearly in crisis.” At one point during his confrontation with the officers, Rodriguez-Nunez says “Today… is my day… to… move on.”
“Where’s mental health?” Blagrove says. “This man literally waits to be killed.”
What The Video Shows
Rodriguez-Nunez lingered in the empty parking lot of the RPD’s Southeast District police station on Rock Quarry Road for about 17 minutes before police responded.
Shortly arriving in the parking lot at 1:02 p.m., Rodriguez-Nunez threw two Molotov cocktails at empty, parked cars, starting small fires that later intensified.
Rodriguez-Nunez then returned to the van and pulled out a gas can, another large container, and several cups, which he began filling with liquid. His preparations went on for several minutes before he laid down in the trunk of the van.
Despite being just outside the front door of the police station, there was no response to Rodriguez-Nunez’s actions until Lieutenant M.F. Schabel pulled into the parking lot, unaware of the events that had preceded his arrival. After long minutes of inaction, things suddenly happen very fast.
Rodriguez-Nunez throws several cups at the patrol car, which Schabel puts into reverse and backs up. Schabel says he is throwing feces and urine at the patrol car. He calls for the fire department and for backup.
A second patrol car pulls onto the scene and Senior Officer B.A. Beausoleil, wearing body camera 1, gets out. Beausoleil calls to Rodriguez-Nunez, “Do not f***ing do it. Don’t do anymore. Don’t do it. Don’t do it, bro,” as Rodriguez-Nunez is lighting more Molotov cocktails.
Beausoleil backs up, on foot, along with the first patrol car, driven by Schabel. About 42 feet of parking lot separates Rodriguez-Nunez from the police.
Rodriguez-Nunez appears to throw three Molotov cocktails toward the police, which land just short of their patrol cars. Rodriguez-Nunez retrieves the gas canister again while Beausoleil opens the passenger door to his vehicle.
The caption indicates an officer, Schabel, radioing to other officers that Rodriguez-Nunez “has a knife in his pocket.” He approaches Rodriguez-Nunez and calls out, “What’s going on man? What’s going on?” Meanwhile, the police vehicle closest to Rodriguez-Nunez is burning on fire.
Rodriguez-Nunez approaches the officers again, lighting another Molotov cocktail, which he throws toward the police. It lands near the front of a parked patrol car.
“Don’t do it motherf***er, I’ve dealt with you!,” shouts Beausoleil. He appears to draw his gun and walk toward Rodriguez-Nunez, along with three other officers according to the panoramic camera, who surround him.
At this point, Rodriguez-Nunez is near his van with three officers in front of him and one, Coates, approaching from the road and standing near the entrance to the station.
“Take your hands out your f***ing pockets,” Beausoleil shouts. Other officers repeat the order, telling Rodriguez-Nunez, “Get your hands out of your pockets, man.”
Coates is also shouting at Rodriguez-Nunez to “Do it! Do it!”
As Rodriguez-Nunez steps toward Coates, preparing to throw another Molotov cocktail, the officers open fire with a series of rapid gunshots. Rodriguez-Nunez falls to the ground.
“Motherf***er, hands!” Beausoleil shouts. “Put your f***ing hands up!”
Rodriguez-Nunez, who is lying on his back on the ground, is approached by officers, who flip him over and cuff his hands behind his back. Officers pick up Rodriguez-Nunez, who is dangling limply from their hands, and move him away from the burning police car. The video ends as the officers start CPR.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated from an earlier version.
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