Las Vegas, NV – The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has released bodycam footage that showed a suspected drunk driver firing a gun at an officer after refusing to participate in a field sobriety test (video below).
Officers returned fire, killing the gunman.
During a media briefing on Monday, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Tim Kelly said the incident was a case of “suicide by cop.”
The incident began at approximately 7:12 a.m. on Oct. 10, when Las Vegas Metropolitan police received a report of a multiple-vehicle collision with injuries near the intersection of South Rainbow Boulevard and Gary Avenue, Sheriff Kelly said.
Officer Kenneth Pilette, 52, and Officer Chad Betts, 43, arrived at the scene of the three-car crash, and were told by two other drivers that they believed the “at-fault” driver, 21-year-old Kenneth Busse, “was possibly impaired,” Sheriff Kelly said.
While Officer Pilette continued with the traffic collision investigation, Officer Betts approached Busse and asked him to complete a field sobriety test.
“Busse twice refused to participate in the field sobriety test, and then walked away from Officer Betts,” Sheriff Kelly explained.
Bodycam footage showed Officer Betts as he instructed Busse to place his hands behind his back.
“For what?” Busse asked him. “What light did you say to turn off?”
Officer Betts told him he never asked him to turn off a light, and explained that he was placing Busse under arrest for driving under the influence.
“I’m not impaired though – I’m just driving home from work,” he argued.
When Officer Betts moved towards Busse to take him into custody, the suspect took off on foot towards a bush located about 12 yards away, Sheriff Kelly said.
“[He] bent down, and picked up a black firearm,” the sheriff said. “Busse had hid the firearm prior to officers arriving on the scene.”
When Officer Betts realized the suspect was armed, he immediately ran for cover behind the suspect’s vehicle and alerted his partner.
Busse then “chambered a round” into the handgun, and aimed his weapon at Officer Betts, Sheriff Kelly said.
A moment later, the suspect pointed his weapon at Officer Pilette.
Officer Pilette fired at Busse, but did not hit him, the sheriff said.
Busse then shot at Officer Pilette, who moved behind his patrol car for cover.
Officer Betts fired two rounds at the gunman, who collapsed onto the ground. Both rounds had struck the suspect in the chest.
“Don’t touch it! Don’t touch it!” Officer Betts commanded, as Busse writhed on the ground near the 9mm handgun he had been carrying, the video showed.
Investigators later learned that Busse had 13 additional rounds in the weapon’s magazine, and that his weapon had “locked or jammed” after he fired the single round, Sheriff Kelly said.
“So that is the reason why he was not able to fire off additional rounds,” he explained.
The officers immediately approached the fallen suspect and requested medical assistance over the radio.
Busse was unresponsive when emergency medical personnel arrived, and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
The officers and citizens at the scene were not injured during the shootout.
“This incident began as a traffic accident, and it’s unfortunate this incident did not end with just cars being damaged and a citation,” Sheriff Kelly said.
Investigators later learned that Busse was suicidal, and that he had made suicidal comments in the past, according to the sheriff.
“And by his actions on the day of the shooting, [he] was suicidal that day,” he said. “While we may not know Busse’s full intention, this appears to me as a case of suicide-by-cop.”
“While we are all glad no one else was injured during this incident, our goal as law enforcement is to never be forced to take the type of action we had to take in this situation,” Sheriff Kelly said.
Officer Pilette, a 20-year veteran of the force, fired four rounds during the altercation, while Officer Betts, who has been with the agency for 19 years, fired two rounds.
Both officers have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, as per department protocol, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
Busse had received two traffic citations in the past, but otherwise had no known criminal history, according to Sheriff Kelly.
Had he survived, Busse would have faced charges of attempted murder on a protected person, assault with a deadly weapon on a protected person, and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, the sheriff said.
You can see the gunfight in the video below. WARNING – Graphic Content: