Bodycam video shows tense moments when officer shot fleeing motorcyclist

Local

WARNING: The video below contains explicit language and graphic images that viewers may find disturbing.

SAN DIEGO – New body-worn camera footage released Thursday by San Diego police shows the moments after an officer opened fire on a suspect who police say led them on a pursuit in the Chollas Creek area and fired at least one shot at them in the process.

The nearly seven-minute video shows portions of police responding to the Sept. 28 incident, when 35-year-old Jesus Medina Morales was shot twice by Officer trainee Justin Hibbard near the intersection of Shiloh Road and Rex Avenue. Police say the shooting occurred after officers attempted to pull Morales over at nearby Lea Street for an obstructed license plate when he failed to stop and led them on a pursuit on his motorcycle before ditching the bike and continuing on foot.

Morales was taken to a local hospital to be treated for his wounds. No other injuries were reported.

He was booked Oct. 1 into San Diego Central Jail on several felony charges, including attempted murder, and he remains jailed with bail set at $3 million.

Video shared by the department Thursday includes audio of radio traffic, surveillance footage from the department’s Multi-Cultural Community Relations substation on University Avenue — which captures the sounds of gunfire being exchanged — and the body-worn camera footage from an unnamed field training officer. Hibbard did not turn on his body-worn camera system during the incident, the department said.

The footage from the field training officer begins without sound for about 40 seconds and picks up as the two officers exit their vehicle to chase Morales down Wightman Street toward Shiloh Road. It was during this period of time when police say Morales fired at least one shot toward Hibbard, who was closest to him. Hibbard then fired his service weapon “multiple times.”

When the audio resumes, radio traffic is heard from a dispatcher: “Shots fired. Again, shots fired.”

The training officer’s footage shows Hibbard standing near the intersection of Shiloh Road and Rex Avenue while Morales is across the street and laying down on his back after being shot.

“Put it the f— down,” the unnamed officer yells at Morales. “Are you f—— stupid?”

Both officers approach Morales with guns drawn, urging him repeatedly to lay down on his stomach. Morales tells officers, “I’m down, I’m down,” and rolls to his stomach, revealing that the back of his white shirt and a sleeve was bloodied from the interaction.

An officer then asks him if he has any more guns, to which he responds: “No, no, no.”

The department said the firearm recovered from Morales was an unregistered “ghost gun.” According to police, Morales’ gun jammed after a live round misfed and caused it to malfunction.

In August, San Diego City Council approved an ordinance to crack down on so-called “ghost guns” – or firearms without individual serial numbers – that was introduced after an April 22 shooting in the Gaslamp Quarter. Nearly 20% of weapons seized by police in the first half of the year were “ghost guns,” San Diego police Chief David Nisleit said.

An investigation into the shooting will be conducted by the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office to determine if officers were criminally liable. Other investigations will be held by the Internal Affairs Unit to assess potential policy violations, the Shooting Review Board to assess tactics used and the Commission on Police Practices will review the incident.

The FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office reportedly are monitoring the investigation as well.

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