A Raleigh police officer testified Friday that Kyron Hinton did not pose an immediate threat before a sheriff’s deputy sicced a police dog on him, and that in general, “I don’t like K-9s. I don’t want them anywhere near me.”
Jurors heard a third day of testimony against Wake County sheriff’s deputy Cameron Broadwell, who is charged with felony assault in the April 2018 altercation with Hinton, who was surrounded by officers after screaming and waving his arms in the middle of Raleigh Boulevard.
Much of the evidence in Broadwell’s trial has come from the four Raleigh officers and a state trooper who arrived on the scene first, responding to 911 calls reporting a man in the road holding a gun. Those officers, so far, have said they quickly realized Hinton held a cell phone rather than a gun, and they suspected he was either high on drugs or suffering an episode of mental illness.
Raleigh Police officer Mike Klingenmaier said he heard babbling from Hinton along the lines of “I am Yahweh, I have come from the Planet Babylon,” and suspected he had been using PCP. Footage filmed by a motorist who called 911 shows the officers standing calmly in a circle around Hinton, each a few feet away, one of them holding a Taser behind his back.
Prosecutors in the past two days have sought to distinguish their behavior from Broadwell, whom the video shows entering the scene suddenly from the left side of the screen, holding the barking dog on a leash and ordering “Get on the ground or you’re gonna get bit!”
Assistant District Attorney Patrick Latour asked Raleigh officer J.W. Gomes about the seconds leading up to the dog bites.
Latour: On the scene, while you were there, was Kyron Hinton an immediate threat to you?
Gomes: To me, in my opinion, to me, no.
Earlier in the day, he asked:
Latour: Were you surprised when you saw the dog?
Latour: Had you called for a K-9?
Latour: Why didn’t you call for a K-9?
Gomes: Me, personally? I didn’t need to yet.
Gomes had the Taser behind his back to keep from spooking Hinton. The priority, he said, was “trying to figure out a way to get him out of the middle of the road.” Asked about K-9 dogs in more detail, Gomes said he encounters them often in his work but does not enjoy working with them.
“I don’t like K-9s,” he said. “I don’t want them anywhere near me. I just started to back up (at the Hinton scene). I don’t want to be anywhere close.”
Hinton’s mother Vicki has said her son has long suffered from mental health trouble along with drug and alcohol problems. Still, she said, watching the video of her son getting bitten left her “heartbroken for America.” She fled the courtroom as it played Thursday.
On cross-examination, both Gomes and Klingenmaier said Hinton appeared to be on drugs and possessed unusual strength common with PCP users. Klingenmaier said he suspected from the start of the encounter with Hinton that it would end by using force. He adjusted the camera in his car so that it would capture the scene on video.
But after Hinton was subdued and taken to WakeMed, Klingenmaier said he told an SBI investigator officers “had all the time in the world” before the deputy and the K-9 arrived. He also told the SBI the deputy “simply showed up without communicating and did his own thing right out the gate.”
Raleigh police officers undergo training for mental health crises, which Klingenmaier described as, “There’s no need to rush it. You can sometimes talk people out of a crisis.”
The Raleigh officer told Latour that he thought the encounter with Hinton would most likely end with “some kind of multiple-officer takedown.”
But, he said, “I was going to let the situation play out.”
Hinton died in February of causes unrelated to the officers. He received an $83,000 settlement from Wake County one day earlier.