I don’t know why Keith Dutree Collins ran from police after being approached on Pleasant Valley Road Friday. I don’t know why, in the middle of the chase, he turned to face the officer holding what cops say was a BB gun. I don’t know why the officer, having already fired four shots at Collins, fired seven more rounds at him as he lay bleeding on the ground.

There are many questions left unanswered by graphic footage of Collin’s death made available to a few members of the public Wednesday morning. Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown pledged last week to petition a judge to release the footage publicly, but a judge denied her request after Collins’s family asked the footage remain private. Instead, the chief allowed members of the media and the public to view the footage at police headquarters.

Viewers were not allowed to have any recording devices or cell phones while watching the footage, but they were allowed a pen and paper. So I walked through a metal detector before entering and had to run out to the car to place my AirPods, which weren’t allowed either. 

Once inside, I was handed a paper copy of the five-day report and was told the officer in the room with me would not be able to answer any questions or pause the video once it began. It would be played on a loop five times.

So I watched Keith Dutree Collins die five times.

The video begins in the police car, the officer’s body camera pointed at the steering wheel. There is no audio for the first 30 seconds. During this silence, the officer pulls up alongside Collins, who is casually strolling down Pleasant Valley Road, his hands in his pockets. 

The officer, identified as W.B. Tapscott, was responding to a 3:00 p.m. 911 call from a customer in the Big Lots parking lot who claimed to see Collins drop a gun on the ground and said he was acting “shady.” The caller described Collin’s gold letterman-style jacket as “if he was getting ready to go on Saturday Night Live.”

When Tapscott pulls up next to Collins, he swings open the door to his car. Collins puts his hands up for a moment, before running across the street away from Tapscott. He’s not running very fast, but Tapscott slows down. 

The audio finally kicks in, and Tapscott is heard yelling, “Show me your hands” three times at Collins. In mid-stride, Collins appears to turn around. It ’s hard to see if there is anything in Collins’s hand, though police say Collins pointed the BB gun at Tapscott. Tapscott immediately fires four shots at Collins, who collapses on the ground.

Tapscott retreats behind some bushes while yelling orders at Collins, whose arms can be seen moving. Tapscott yells, “Drop the gun” three more times before firing seven more shots at Collins. Another officer approaches Tapscott and their shadows show that he places a hand on Tapscott’s shoulder.

“You all right?” the second officer asks.

“Yeah, I’m good,” Tapscott says in an almost unnerving calm.

After about a minute, they approach Collins, who is now lying still on the ground with a bloodstain visible on his pants. The BB gun is lying maybe two feet away, and one of the officers kicks it away. Tapscott grabs Collins’s arms, which appear limp, and places handcuffs on them. The words “BB gun” can be heard. The video ends.

Collins would be taken to the hospital, where he died. 

Tapscott is on administrative duty pending the results of an internal investigation by the Raleigh PD. The State Bureau of Investigation is also conducting an inquiry. 

Rolanda Byrd, president of the Raleigh Police Accountability Taskforce, also viewed the footage. She believes there were several things Tapscott could have done differently, including trying to apprehend Collins by hand before resorting to lethal force. After the first four shots, Byrd said, “Everything else past that was excessive to me.”

“I think he would have had a chance at living if the EMS had been sent sooner and the officer wouldn’t have taken so many shots,” said Byrd, whose son Akiel Denkins was shot and killed by police in 2016. “I feel like the 911 caller has some responsibility for his death as well.”

Activist Kerwin Pittman also viewed the footage. In a text message to the INDY, he called the response to the situation “definitely overkill. The extra shots when he was down [were] extremely excessive.”  

The city’s five-day report does not draw conclusions about whether Tapscott’s actions violated department policy. 

“All investigations are ongoing, will be thorough, and will follow the available facts and evidence,” the report says.

Contact Raleigh news editor Leigh Tauss at ltauss@indyweek.com. 

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