Fairfax Co. police release bodycam footage showing struggle for officer’s gun before shooting

Police in Fairfax County, Virginia, released bodycam and security camera footage Thursday showing the moments leading up to a deadly police shooting at a gas station earlier this month, including the struggle for an officer’s weapon.

The age-restricted video can be seen in its entirety on the Fairfax County Police Department’s YouTube page(Editor’s Note: The video’s contents may be upsetting to some viewers.) 

Police said Brandon Lemagne, 38, of Newport News, was driving a stolen U-Haul when an officer stopped him in a gas station parking lot the afternoon of May 3 on Richmond Highway. A struggle ensued between Lemagne and the officer that resulted in two additional responding officers opening fire and killing Lemagne.

Security camera footage from the Citgo station in the 6200 block of Richmond Highway shows an officer approach the U-Haul as the driver, Lemagne, walked toward the inside of the gas station.

The footage shows the officer, who officials said has been on the force for three years, informing Lemagne that he was being detained. Moments later, both the security camera and body camera footage show, Lemagne suddenly reach for the officer’s gun.

Both the security camera and the first officer’s body camera show that a struggle for the gun ensued, which started outside of the police SUV and continued inside the SUV.

During the struggle for the firearm, the officer can be heard saying “Get off my gun” multiple times. The officer can be heard calling for backup, alerting other officers that Lemagne grabbed his gun.

“This is egregious, this is not the norm. Our police officer is lucky to be alive,” said Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis, calling the incident a “once-in-a-generation” event for a police department.

The security footage shows that once the two men are inside the police SUV, it begins to go in reverse toward an adjacent McDonald’s. Davis said it was “absolutely” Lemagne who put the vehicle in reverse, and who “stomped on the gas pedal.”

“I often say that these body-worn camera videos speak for themselves. I believe this is one of those instances,” Davis said. “You probably picked up that our officer was attacked, to say the least. The perpetrator attempted viciously and violently to disarm our uniformed Fairfax County police officer, and I think you saw that rather clearly.”

Police also released body camera footage from the two additional officers who responded to the scene and shot at Lemagne.

Footage from one of the officer’s bodycams shows that officer firing multiple shots toward the police SUV from across the parking lot. Then, a third officer pulls Lemagne out of the vehicle and onto the ground, shooting him at close range before pulling out the first officer from the SUV and attending to the officer’s injuries.

Davis said both a criminal investigation and an internal investigation are ongoing, but Davis said from what he’s seen, the officer’s actions appear to be justified.

“The investigation still has to move forward,” Davis said. “We still have to ask questions that we need answers to.” He added, “These officers ran toward gunfire, and their only intent was to save the life of that police officer who was screaming for help.”

Of the two officers who fired their weapons, Davis said one was a 24-year veteran and one was an eight-year veteran.

Davis also addressed questions about how officers reacted after the shooting.

As Lemagne was motionless on the ground, an officer can be heard saying “don’t even bother” to another officer who apparently made an attempt to attend to Lemagne, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

Reporters asked Davis if they thought the officer’s response was too callous toward Lemagne. Davis explained the officers’ immediate goal was to attend to their fellow officer, who they perceived to be wounded upon arriving at the scene.

Reporters also asked Davis if it was within the police training for the responding officer to fire his gun from such a far distance in such a busy area. Davis also said all officer actions, decisions and behaviors from the scene will be subject to a thorough investigation.

“His intent was to kill that police officer,” Davis said of Lemagne.

All three officers involved are still on restrictive duty status pending the outcome of the investigations.

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David Andrews

No stranger to local news, David Andrews has contributed to DCist, Greater Greater Washington and was fellow at Washingtonian Magazine. He worked as a photo/videographer for University of Maryland's Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center.

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