LELAND, NC (WECT) - WECT News has obtained dashcam video an officer-involved shooting on Dec. 9, 2016, that resulted in Officer Jacob Schwenk of the Leland Police Department nearly losing his life in the line of duty.
WECT petitioned the Leland Police Department to release the dashcam video under a state law enacted in 2016.
Chief Mike James of the Leland Police Department did not oppose the video being released to WECT, and attorneys for the town made that known to Judge James Bell during a hearing Tuesday in Brunswick County Superior Court.
Bell ordered the video be released, citing "a compelling public interest." There appears to be a slight delay between the video and the audio on the recording WECT received from Leland police.
Just before 9 p.m. on Dec. 9, 2016, authorities in Brunswick County received several 911 calls about a vehicle driving erratically along Bridgeport Way in Leland's Windsor Park community. The suspected vehicle reportedly struck bushes and nearly hit some mailboxes. Officer Schwenk responded to the neighborhood to investigate.
"When you're pulling somebody over, you really don't know what their head space is or what their involvement in other crimes might be," District Attorney Jon David said. "There was nothing about showing up on a DWI call which would have led a reasonable officer to conclude that his life was in danger. Fortunately, consistent with his training, as he approached the car, the officer already had his hand on his service weapon. He was being careful as he approached. So, it was that training that ultimately put him in a position to save his own life."
The dashcam video shows Schwenk following a white car fitting the description into a cul-de-sac where the vehicle completes a U-turn and stops, facing the police vehicle. Schwenk is heard on the tape giving several repeated instructions to the driver.
Schwenk: "Shut the vehicle off!"
Three seconds later, another instruction.
Schwenk: "Shut the car off!"
No response is heard on the tape. Schwenk repeats his command six seconds later.
Another six seconds pass with no response heard from the driver on the video.
Schwenk is heard twice asking "Is the car off?"
At this point, he gives additional instructions.
Schwenk: "Go ahead, step out of the vehicle. Put the beer down."
The order to get out of the vehicle is given again as you see the officer on the dashcam video for the first time. As he walks across the screen and toward the suspect's vehicle, the officer continues to give instructions.
Schwenk: "Keep your hands where I can see them!"
It is at that point the driver later identified as 43-year-old Brent Quinn gets out of the vehicle and immediately begins firing.
Schwenk is seen stumbling backward and screaming. Investigators say he was shot six times, once in the chest and five times in the legs. He falls to the ground, out of the view of the dash camera.
Seconds later, Schwenk manages to return fire at Quinn, hitting him six times -- including twice in the face -- killing him.
Schwenk is heard screaming while out of the camera's view. Seconds later, you can hear him call for help.
Schwenk: "C-Com, shots fired!"
Schwenk: "15-33, shots fired. I'm hit, suspect down."
Schwenk: "Send EMS!"
One minute after Schwenk's call to send emergency assistance, Officer Charles McGee of the Leland Police Department is seen on the tape.
Schwenk: "Right here."
McGee: "Jake, you been hit?"
McGee: "Where are you hit at?"
Schwenk: "In the leg."
McGee: "In the leg?"
In the video, you can see Officer McGee put handcuffs on Quinn. You can then hear him turn attention back to Officer Schwenk.
McGee: "What do you need, Jake?"
He goes out of frame, returning quickly with medical equipment and talks to the downed officer.
McGee: "All right, tell me what you need, buddy."
It is at that point, investigators say, that Schwenk directed McGee to put a tourniquet on his leg to stop the bleeding. That quick attention is credited with helping to save Schwenk's life.
EMS crews arrived within minutes and are seen on the video rendering medical aid to the injured officer. The video WECT received ends at 10 minutes after the shooting, per instructions given by the judge in his ruling.
Schwenk was rushed to New Hanover Regional Medical Center where he had surgery to save both of his legs.
"I will tell you that I was deeply concerned at the first time I talked to the press that he might succumb to his injuries because he had a very damaging injury to his femoral artery," District Attorney Jon David said. "But for that tourniquet that was applied by Officer McGee, he might not be here."
"This shows that within a breath, within a heartbeat, life can change.," Lt. Jeremy Humphries of the Leland Police Department said. Humphries was visibly emotional after viewing the video once again in the WECT newsroom, seeing the attack on a fellow officer even months after it happened.
"We spend more time with each other than we do our own families. So, these guys are like family. These ladies are like family. Whether you are born from the same parent or not, you spend that much time with people you care about, and something bad happens to them, of course, it's natural that it should upset you," Humphries explained. "No one wants to lose a loved one. The bad side to this is that what happened to this officer, it's terrible, but there is more than just one family that is affected by it as well. It hits home because that could be anyone."
According to the autopsy report, the medical examiner noted a "strong odor of alcohol" on Quinn, and the toxicology showed a significant blood ethanol level of 260 mg/dl, equivalent to a blood alcohol content of .26. In North Carolina, it is illegal to drive a vehicle while noticeably impaired or with an alcohol concentration of .08 or higher.
"At this level, the individual's judgment and coordination most likely would have been impaired," the report states. Reports indicate effects of a blood alcohol level between .25 to .399 include alcohol poisoning and loss of consciousness.
Quinn was shot twice in the head, once in his neck, once in his chest, once in his upper left arm, and once in his left hand, according to the report. The medical examiner listed his cause of death as gunshot wounds to the head, chest, and arm.
After the shooting, David's office, Leland Police Chief Mike James and Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram asked the SBI to conduct an independent investigation into the matter. The SBI later cleared Officer Schwenk in connection to the shooting, and David announced Schwenk was justified when he used deadly force to shoot and kill Quinn during the armed confrontation.
Investigators searched Quinn's car following the shooting and found another loaded handgun.