Newly released body camera footage shows the moment a Las Vegas police officer shot and killed a suspected drunken driver last week after he refused a field sobriety test and then fired a bullet at the officer’s partner.
The footage shows the driver, Kenneth Ryan Busse Jr., 21, suddenly staggering after being shot twice in the chest. He then reaches up to his wounds and falls forward, dropping his weapon.
“Don’t touch it!” the officer who shot him, Chad Betts, says of the weapon. “Don’t touch it!”
Busse died at the scene. Neither Betts nor the second officer, Kenneth Pilette, were injured.
The shooting happened after police said Busse crashed into two other vehicles about 7:30 a.m. Wednesday at the intersection of South Rainbow Boulevard and West Gary Avenue. The second and third drivers both told the officers Busse seemed impaired.
In the video, Busse twice refuses a field sobriety test, so Betts orders him to put his hands behind his back.
“Why?” Busse asks.
“Because you’re under arrest for DUI,” Betts says.
“For what?” Busse replies.
“Because I think you’re impaired,” Betts replies.
“I’m not impaired, though,” Busse says, holding a water bottle. “I’m just driving home from work.”
“OK, then why won’t you do a field sobriety test?” Betts asks.
“Because I don’t need to,” Busse replies.
After a short exchange, Busse tosses the water bottle into the bed of his pickup and then jogs over to a bush about 12 yards away from the crash scene.
Betts jogs after him, shouting for his partner’s attention as Busse crouches down and stands back up from behind the bush holding a handgun that he apparently hid before police arrived.
Upon noticing the handgun, the officer darts back, taking cover behind Busse’s wrecked truck. That’s when the second officer fires four rounds at Busse.
Police said Busse fired one round back at Pilette, but his gun jammed, preventing him from firing again. It was during this moment that Betts shot Busse twice.
Assistant Sheriff Tim Kelly on Monday called Busse’s actions “suicide by cop.”
“It’s unfortunate this incident did not end with just cars being damaged and a citation,” Kelly said.
Busse had no criminal record but had two previous traffic citations.
Had he survived, police would have arrested him on one count of attempted murder on a protected person, one count of assault with a deadly weapon on a protected person and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, which would have been in reference to the two other drivers who were still at the crash scene when the shooting started, Kelly said.
The incident marked the Metropolitan Police Department’s 20th officer-involved shooting so far this year.
Of those, 10 have been fatal.
This time last year, the department had seen 18 officer-involved shootings, eight of which were fatal.
Betts, 43, has been with Metro since October 1999, and Pilette, 52, has been with the department since July 1998. Per protocol, both officers were placed on paid leave pending the outcome of the investigation.