HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The Huntsville Police Department released body camera footage of the 2019 shooting death of Crystal Ragland Friday morning.
Last month a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by Ragland’s sister that claimed the officers used excessive force. Shortly afterward, the court ordered the release of police body camera footage from that day.
Ragland, an Iraq War veteran, was shot and killed in May 2019 after Huntsville police responded to a call at Stadium Apartments about Ragland pointing a gun and threatening neighbors from her apartment.
The video from two different officers’ cameras shows Ragland was shot multiple times and handcuffed on the ground within a minute of police first knocking on her apartment door.
In a 911 call police also released from that day, a man who says he is the manager of Stadium Apartments says a resident told him Ragland was standing in her patio door pointing a gun at people through the window.
“She has a history of being kind of unstable,” the caller says.
Officers Jonathan Henderson and Brett Collum responded to the call.
In the video, a man who identifies himself as the apartment manager says Ragland pointed a handgun at him from her window when he walked by after making a 911 call.
The manager also tells them Ragland was a veteran who came to the apartments through a veterans housing program, and he says Ragland has post-traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury.
“She’s not stable,” the man said. “For the last few weeks, every time I’ve been down here she’d been having that patio blinds open, just staring out the window looking at people.”
Henderson tells the manager they have “plenty of options and avenues we can explore.”
“Obviously we’ll try and get her some help, whatever,” Henderson said. “You know, whatever, but — you know we can do cases and all that and everything else, but we’re going to try and make contact with her.”
Henderson then tells Collum, who has walked up during Henderson’s conversation with the manager, that Ragland reportedly pointed a handgun at the manager and has chronic PTSD and other issues.
They approach the building and Henderson knocks on Ragland’s apartment door as Collum watches the back patio door.
The confrontation rapidly escalated. Based on the police body camera time stamps, Henderson began knocking at 8:42:33 and the first shots are fired by 8:42:54, about 21 seconds later.
After Henderson knocks and identifies himself as “Huntsville Police” and asks to talk, Ragland comes out the sliding door onto the patio where Collum is watching.
“Hey, let me see your hands,” Collum says. “Put your hands up in the air.”
“I don’t got no weapon,” Ragland is heard saying.
“Step out,” Collum says. “Step out for me.”
“Why you pointing your weapon at me?” Ragland asks.
“Hey, get your hands up,” Collum says. “Get your f—ing hands up. Get your hands up!”
“Shoot my f—ing a– !” Ragland says as Henderson makes his way to the patio and shouts for her to put up her hands.
In Collum’s video, things move quickly. Ragland steps further out onto the patio and appears to reach and pull at something in her pocket. Both officers fire multiple shots and Ragland falls to the ground, bleeding.
The officers radio in the shooting and approach Ragland, telling her to keep her hands where they can see them.
“Do not reach for the gun or I’ll shoot you again,” one of the officers says before cuffing her hands behind her back. Her injuries are visible. A few seconds later, Henderson requests a medical kit on the radio.
Police later determined she was pulling a replica handgun from her pocket.
The officers were cleared in Ragland’s shooting by an HPD incident review board, and the Madison County District Attorney’s office also determined the shooting was justified.
The Huntsville Police Department, in a statement released with the video, said it would not have released the footage without a court order because of its “sensitive nature.”
Ragland’s family said on Facebook more comments would come after the release of the video, but said the video’s release was not an attempt to be transparent.
“If they wanted to be transparent, they could’ve done it two years ago,” the post read.