St. Paul Police release body camera video in Billy Hughes shooting

St. Paul Police released the body camera footage of the officer-involved shooting of William Hughes. This comes after St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter called for the release of the video.

On Aug 5., officers responded to a 911 call of shots fired in Hughes’ housing complex on the 900 block of St. Anthony Avenue. Hughes, 45, was armed with a handgun when he was shot and killed by St. Paul Police Officers Vincent Adams and Matthew Jones. 

Police made the two body camera videos available at a press conference Friday afternoon. In the video, Officers Adams and Jones walk inside a screened in porch. A man's voice can heard saying, "I will kill you." When Hughes walks out onto the porch, he is seen holding a gun. The officers command him to put his hands up. While still holding the gun, Hughes makes an upward sweeping motion and the officers fire.

Before the public release, St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell watched the videos with Hughes' family. During that meeting, Libby Meyers, Hughes' sister gave Chief Axtell two cards to give to the two officers involved in the incident. At the conference, he showed the two sealed envelopes to the media.

"It's the first time I’ve seen such grace from a family that’s been met with such a tragedy," said Chief Axtell.

Axtell said he hopes the release will help dispel rumors and create more transparency.

"To the family, I am so sorry for your loss," Chief Axtell said. "To the officers and their families, I’m sorry that this situation chose you and that your life will be forever altered."

After the release of the videos, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi released a statement, saying his team will be completing its prosecution review simultaneously as the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension completes its investigation. He said he is "confident" the charging decision will come more quickly than past officer-involved shootings his office has reviewed.

"I want to assure the public that we will be thorough in our work," said the statement in part. "We will utilize the resources and time necessary to make the right decision, recognizing that any decision we make may be difficult for some people in our community to accept. Our goals are to seek the truth, remain faithful to the law, uphold the integrity of the process, and to conduct our work without bias, fear or favor."

According to a search warrant filed in Ramsey County District Court, the day after the shooting, investigators interviewed the 911 caller, who said they were staying at Hughes’ apartment before the incident. The person said Hughes fell out of his elevated bed and then became “verbally hostile” toward them and then Hughes fired two or three shots at the bedroom wall.

The gun jammed, but after clearing the gun, Hughes pointed it at the person, commenting on the color of their hat. The person was able to leave the apartment and call the police.

At some point after officers arrived on the scene, they fired their guns, killing Hughes.

While it is unclear how long Hughes had lived at the apartment, St. Paul police told Fox 9 that they were called there 58 times over the course of the last four years for a variety of disturbances including disorderly conduct, fights, assaults and theft.

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter also released a statement Friday, calling the footage "heartbreaking" and commending the Hughes family for their "grace in the face of crisis."

Statement from Mayor Melvin Carter:

The body camera footage of Billy Hughes’ death is heartbreaking. I extend my sincere condolences to the Hughes family, to every grieving member of our community, and to Officers Adams and Jones, who were called last week to respond to a situation no officer would ever hope to encounter.  

A fatal officer-involved shooting is one of the toughest challenges a city can face. I commend the Hughes family for their grace in the face of crisis. I commend Chief Axtell and the Saint Paul Police Department for setting a new bar for transparency by releasing this footage today, and I commend the BCA for their swift and thorough approach to guiding us toward justice through their ongoing investigation.

All of Saint Paul is united today in mourning Billy Hughes, and in wishing this terrible incident had never happened. As we process the range of emotions his death evokes, I remain committed to building community, and to ensuring our officers are equipped with the tools, resources, and trust they need to help us keep our neighborhoods safe.