The Mobile County Sheriff’s Department played the approximately two-minute security video for media Thursday. It was taken by a security camera outside the University of South Alabama police station, where 18-year-old Gil Collar was fatally shot early Saturday morning. The video has no sound.
Police said Collar had taken LSD and was acting aggressively, but an attorney for Collar’s family said the video shows his actions didn’t justify the shooting. The former high school wrestler was struck once in the chest.
On the video, Collar walks slowly toward a campus police station door once and then walks away. Seconds later, he walks back to the station and pounds violently on a glass window. He then walks away from the police station again before an officer, Trevis Austin, comes out with his gun drawn and pointed at the naked student. Collar approaches Austin with his arms outstretched and palms open toward Austin.
They move around the porch, with Collar kneeling at one point, then getting to his feet and again walking toward Austin. The officer keeps backing away from Collar, his gun pointed at the student, as Collar approaches. The two move into the yard, where the view of the camera is partially blocked by the porch columns and lighting. Less than 30 seconds after Austin came out of the building, the video shows Collar falling after having been shot. The police dispatcher can be seen opening the station’s front door in response to the sound of gunfire. A second officer arrives just as Collar is being shot. Collar gets up twice and the officers pursue him.
Sheriff Sam Cochran said two officers handcuffed Collar to subdue him after he was shot, but that could not be clearly seen on the video. A second backup officer arrived just as the two-minute video ended.
“In my opinion it was proper to come out with the gun,” Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran said.
He said numerous police officers have been killed with their own weapons and that it is important for an officer to make sure a suspect isn’t able to take control of a weapon. Collar did not touch Austin, but Austin got as close as five feet to the pointed gun before Austin fired.
The attorney for the student’s family, Jere Beasley, said earlier Thursday that the shooting was not justified.
“I can tell you without reservation nothing we saw in the videotape justified the use of deadly force in this case.”
Beasley said his chief investigator and one of his lawyers, a former police officer, were shown the tape Wednesday by the Mobile County Sheriff’s Department.
The video shows the 5-foot-7, 140-pound student never got closer to the officer than 4 feet and didn’t try to grab his weapon, Beasley contended. The lawyer said the video also shows the officer didn’t wait for backup to arrive before coming out of the station.
“I have seen nothing to indicate to me that you ought to go out there with a raised gun against a guy who’s buck naked, unarmed and in distress,” he said.
Beasley said the officer was not carrying a baton or pepper spray, even though university officials have said officers typically carry both in addition to a gun.
Forensic scientists have not completed a toxicology report on drug use, he added.
“The fact that he came to the police station indicates that he was not necessarily looking for trouble. In fact, I think he was looking for help,” Beasley said.
Collar’s parents, Kent and Bonnie Collar, accompanied Beasley to the news conference, but did not comment. They sat in chairs, holding hands, bowing their heads and nodding occasionally. Beasley said they have been praying for the officer, but hold the university accountable for training its officers properly.
Beasley said his law firm will complete its investigation before the family makes a decision about whether to sue the university, but the family’s ultimate goal is to make sure policies are in place to prevent the same thing from happening to another student.
Cochran said that investigators are working to determine who supplied Collar with the LSD and that that person could be arrested in connection with his death.
Collar’s funeral is scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday at Mulder Memorial United Methodist Church in his hometown of Wetumpka.