A distressing video has emerged showing the moment SWAT team officers in North Carolina repeatedly shot an unarmed man accused of being a hostage-taker.
Jason Kloepfer, 41, released the video capturing his Dec. 13 shooting on his Facebook page Friday, along with graphic photos showing his injuries.
According to a press release that was put out by the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office last month, deputies responded to Kloepfer’s mobile home on Upper Bear Paw Road at around 11 p.m. after getting a 911 call of shots fired.
Believing that there was a gunman inside the home holding another person hostage, the sheriff’s office obtained a search warrant and requested assistance from the Cherokee Indian Police Department’s SWAT team.
The initial press release alleged that Kloepfer “engaged in a verbal altercation with officers,” then emerged from his trailer and “confronted” cops, prompting them to open fire on him.
But the newly released surveillance video from inside the camper appears to tell a different story that challenges the official narrative.
In the video, responding officers are seen tossing into the home a robotic device equipped with a light source and cameras, which apparently woke Kloepfer and his wife, Alison Mahler, who were asleep in a back room.
“What’s going on?” Mahler calls out of the bedroom, with Kloepfer by her side.
The couple seem confused about what’s happening as an officer is heard on a loudspeaker ordering Kloepfer to come out of the camper.
“Step outside the door onto the deck and show us your hands!” a male cop’s voice is heard. “Jason, we just want to talk to you. Come outside.”
Kloepfer picks up the police robot and opens the front door with his hands up. Moments later, a barrage of gunfire is heard, causing the man, who is said to be disabled, to stumble backward and collapse in the middle of his kitchen, screaming in agony, “I’m shot!”
“What the hell did you do?!” his wife shouts at the cops while her husband sits on the floor with blood gushing from multiple wounds on his torso.
SWAT team officers order Kloepfer again to come out with his hands up, but both he and his wife frantically try to explain to them that the 41-year-old cannot comply with their commands because he is injured.
Kloepfer then drags himself across the floor towards the open door and raises his hands, saying: “I don’t have a gun! I didn’t have a gun!”
After a couple of minutes, heavily armed tactical team officers step over Kloepfer and enter the camper with guns drawn.
After confirming that there is no one else inside the residence, one of the officers orders a colleague to “start working on” Kloepfer, who tells them that he had been hit in the chest.
Once Kloepfer is removed from the camper, three SWAT officers reenter the home, and one of them exclaims, “F–k, bro, f–k!”
Another officer seems to warn his colleague, “Hey, cameras, cameras!”
Kloepfer was taken to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in stable condition.
He was subsequently charged with communicating threats and resist, obstruct and delay.
Last week, Kloepfer shared images revealing the extent of his injuries, including a long wound closed with metal staples running from the middle of his chest down to his groin, and a second injury to his left arm.
“I am physically doing better, mentally me an Ali ain’t so good on this one,” Kloepfer wrote in a status update. “We are out of state for fear of our lives since I got out the hospital.”
The 41-year-old said he was not at liberty to discuss his case but assured his friends that his charges are “completely wrong.”
“This has been and still is a horrible nightmare we are trying to get thru (sic),” he added.
After the video of Kloepfer’s shooting has gone viral, Cherokee County Sheriff Dustin Smith released a statement in which he appeared to point fingers at the Cherokee Indian Police Department’s SWAT team — and bemoaned the fact that his agency does not have a tactical unit of its own.
“Since the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office does not have a tactical team to handle a hostage event, I requested assistance from the Cherokee Indian Police Department SWAT Team,” he wrote. “Subsequently, members of CIPD SWAT fired shots at an individual who emerged from the home, injuring him.”
Chief Smith added that he put out the first press release about the incident claiming that Kloepfer had confronted officers before the shooting without having first-hand knowledge of what happened.
“Neither myself nor Chief Deputy Justin Jacobs were on the scene at the time of the shooting, so we relied on information provided to us from the Cherokee Indian Police Department,” he stated. “My goal with issuing that press release was not to comment on the subsequent criminal investigation, which remains ongoing, but rather to update the public on a dangerous situation.”
Smith also noted that he first watched the surveillance footage last Wednesday.