Body camera footage shows man shot by Raleigh police ignored commands to drop gun

Police body camera footage released Friday shows a man shot on Rock Quarry Road in February ignored repeated commands to drop a gun and put his hands above his head, before the officer fired 18 rounds at him.

The footage, released by the city after Raleigh Police Chief Estella Patterson petitioned a judge last month, a state requirement before it can be shared, was captured on the body camera worn by Officer M.L. Berg, who shot the man, identified by police as Ranses Vacramontes Vargas.

Berg and another officer, B.W. Keaton, responded to a 911 call reporting gunshots in the area of Vardaman and Hightower streets, near the 800 block of Rock Quarry Road, on the night of Feb. 10.

In a report released on Feb. 16 that detailed the police shooting, Patterson wrote that after Berg and Keaton didn’t find any “evidence of shooting activity” in the area, Berg proceeded to a parking lot on nearby Rock Quarry Road.

Berg was “conducting an investigative detention of an individual,” when the footage begins.

Multiple gunshots are heard ringing out from the other side of the parking lot, and footage from a surveillance camera across the street shows other people in the strip mall running away from the direction the sound of the shots is coming from.

The footage shows Berg take cover by a parked car in front of him, instruct people near him to “get down,” report that shots have been fired on his radio, and move toward the other end of the parking lot.

A woman getting into another parked car appears to point in Vargas’ direction when Berg asks her, “Who’s shooting?”

As Berg continues to walk toward the other end of the parking lot, a man in dark clothing emerges from behind a parked car. The man, identified by police as Vargas, is seen walking away from Berg with his back to the officer.

Berg immediately raises his gun and points it at Vargas, shining a flashlight in his direction. He identifies himself as police and tells Vargas seven times to drop a gun that police said in their report and in notes accompanying the video Vargas appeared to be holding in his hand.

Vargas continues to ignore Berg’s commands to drop the gun and put his hands on his head, while walking toward a parked red pickup truck. As soon as he reaches the truck, he runs behind it. At the same time, Berg fires several shots at Vargas and the truck.

In her report, Patterson said Berg fired a total of 18 shots.

After firing at Vargas and in the direction of the truck, Berg retreats to take cover behind another nearby parked car, reloads his gun, and again reports that shots have been fired on his radio.

As Berg takes cover behind cars parked near him, Keaton is seen arriving at the scene in another police SUV.

Berg yells out to Keaton that Vargas is in the red truck, at which point someone inside the truck opens the driver’s side door. Both Berg and Keaton tell the person to show them their hands. Berg then moves closer to the truck and tells Keaton that a man seen inside the truck is not Vargas. He tells the man to put his hands on the roof of the truck.

When he moves even closer to the truck, Berg sees Vargas lying down on the ground behind the truck, and reports on his radio that the “suspect’s down on the ground.”

Berg moves toward Vargas, and a woman who was sitting inside the red truck approaches him and says, “You shot my boyfriend.”

“I know, I’m sorry,” Berg says.

Berg handcuffs Vargas, who is still lying on the ground. Additional police vehicles with their sirens blasting arrive. Berg is heard requesting EMS on his radio.

Berg and another officer then move to the driver’s side of the truck and ask the man sitting inside, who police identified as Alejandro Hernandez-Herrera, where he was shot, and provide him with first aid.

As Berg walks back over toward Vargas, what appears to be a handgun is seen on the ground next to him. In the video notes, police say they also recovered an additional magazine and rounds of ammunition from Vargas.

Police said that before EMS arrived, officers administered first aid to both Vargas and Hernandez-Herrera. The woman who was in the red truck was not injured, police said.

Before EMS arrived, police said the officers found the two women who were allegedly shot by Vargas: Mirna Alvarez Robles, and Esther Ramirez Torres.

Robles was found in the driver’s seat of a gray pickup truck parked in front of the strip mall where the confrontation with Vargas happened. Torres was found standing outside in the same area, police said.

Police previously said Vargas shot Robles while she was sitting in the truck, and Torres, with whom he’d had a relationship, as she tried to run away.

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