Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013 | 6:59 p.m.
Metro Police have released surveillance footage from inside a 7-Eleven that shows the seconds leading up to an officer shooting an unarmed man he mistakenly believed to be a homicide suspect.
The victim, 30-year-old Antoine Hodges, suffered a gunshot wound to the abdomen, Undersheriff Jim Dixon said during a media briefing Thursday. Hodges has been treated and released from University Medical Center.
Officer Jason Evans, who fired the single shot at Hodges, has been placed on administrative leave pending a case review by the District Attorney’s Office and an internal investigation.
Evans, a five-year veteran of the department, spoke with homicide detectives Monday, Dixon said.
The officer-involved shooting unfolded shortly after 10:30 p.m. Oct. 21 at the 7-Eleven located at the corner of Nellis Boulevard and Stewart Avenue.
Dixon said Evans was working patrol when he saw a “black male adult with shoulder-length, braided hair” in the parking lot of the convenience store and gas station.
The man seemed to match the description of a suspect wanted in connection with a double homicide that occurred Oct. 20 at the Pacific Harbor Apartments, 5150 E. Sahara Ave., Dixon said.
Evans contacted dispatchers and stated he was conducting a “person stop” on a man he thought might be the homicide suspect, Dixon said.
Surveillance footage shows Evans entering the store with his gun drawn as Hodges is about to exit. Hodges backs up while raising his left hand and putting his other hand near his right front pocket.
Hodges continues backing up, ultimately hitting a merchandise rack and ice-cream freezer, at which point his right arm disappears behind his back.
Two seconds later, the video — which does not include sound — shows a wounded Hodges sprawled out on the store floor.
A brief conversation between Evans and Hodges took place prior to the shooting, some of which was gleaned from the store clerk’s observation, Dixon said. Two female customers in the store did not speak English and were unable to provide information.
The communication started at the door when Hodges encountered the officer as he was leaving. Evans asked Hodges to step out of the store and show his hands, Dixon said.
“The clerk stated that he heard Officer Evans yell out several times for Hodges to show him his hands,” Dixon said.
Hodges did not comply, police said.
Instead, the store clerk said Hodges backed away and told Evans that he “had not done anything,” Dixon said.
When Hodges hit the freezer, the impact caused his body to “suddenly turn toward Evans,” Dixon said. Evans perceived a threat and reacted by firing a single round at Hodges.
Dixon declined to discuss whether Evans’ decision to approach Hodges inside the store was tactically sound. Giving his opinion on the matter could “taint” the review process, he said.
A statement Hodges provided to officers while at the hospital will be included in the investigation, Dixon said.
The District Attorney’s Office will review the case after Metro detectives complete their investigation. The case then will go before Metro’s tactical and use of force review boards.
Regardless of whether the officer acted appropriately in this situation, Dixon said it serves as a reminder to anyone stopped by police.
“Anytime an officer tells you to do something, you should comply with it,” he said.
Hodges, who turned out not to be the homicide suspect, does not face any criminal charges, police said.