Body Camera Captures Fatal Police Shooting of Michael Hughes
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Body Camera Captures Sound of Police Shooting and Killing Man Accused of Tasing an Officer

The Jacksonville, Fla. Sheriff’s Office on Friday released officer-worn body camera recordings which captured audio, but not video, of the police shooting and killing of Michael Hughes, 32, at an Argyle Forest hotel last month.

Hughes, whose family described him as a loving person who was battling a mental illness, was fatally shot by Officer J.H. Wing at a Quality Inn on March 30 following a struggle where Hughes was able to wrestle control of Wing’s Taser away from the officer and stun him, according to a police press conference. But the recording indicates a critical gap between two volleys of gunfire which an attorney for the Hughes family has vowed to exploit.

Wing and another officer were responding to a call about a domestic disturbance dispute between Hughes and his girlfriend for the fourth time that day, local television station WJXT reported earlier this month. According to the report, Hughes had left the hotel room earlier in the day but then forced his way back in and refused to leave, even after the officers arrived at the scene.

The body camera footage shows what happened in the moments just before Hughes and the officers began grappling.

The officers tell Hughes that they plan on detaining him until he can be properly identified. Hughes says he’s “straight,” but an officer replies, “No, you’re not straight.”

As the officers reach for Hughes, he immediately pulls away and says, “back up; don’t touch me” to the officers.

The beginning of the struggle is shown on camera before the officer’s body cam falls to the ground.  The video goes dark, but a microphone captured audio for the remainder of the encounter.

The fight continues for about 60 seconds, with Hughes repeatedly yelling “Get off me. Get off me,” throughout. Then Hughes can be heard saying, “Okay,” and seconds later one of the officers yells, “He’s reaching for my Taser! He’s reaching for my Taser!” followed by, “He’s got my Taser! He’s got my Taser!”

A second later the sound of the Taser discharging can be heard for approximately two seconds.  Two gunshots occurred in quick succession.

“Shoot him!” someone yells several times.

Three more gunshots go off approximately twenty seconds after the original two shots.

The officers immediately call in “shots fired” and a female voice, presumably Hughes’s girlfriend can be heard yelling “What the fuck!” and pleading to come in the room.

One of the officers asks Hughes if he was hit by the bullets and where he was hit. Hughes, audibly out of breath after the struggle and after being tased, speaks to police dispatch and says, “I have been tased. He has been 18’ed,” which is code for a person suffering a gunshot wound.

The officers then say they’re going to “cuff him” and then “cover him and then we’re gonna apply first aid.”

Attorney Marwan Porter, who is representing Hughes’s family in the matter, said Thursday that he believed there was more to the story than authorities were letting on, according to a Friday report from WJXT.  Porter claimed to have a “witness [who]  believes it was Wing who stunned Hughes and then shot him twice in the lower extremities inside the hotel room. Porter said those wounds were not life-threatening but left Hughes disoriented and stumbling and no longer a threat,” the station reported. “Porter said that when police and Hughes exited the hotel room, there was a time gap, and that’s when Wing shot Hughes three more times, killing him. He said that’s when JSO should have defused the situation.”

Porter is demanding that all video of the incident be released, including the other officer’s body camera and hotel surveillance footage.

[image via YouTube screengrab]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.