‘Please, I don’t want to die.’ Elk Grove police body cam video captures fatal shooting

The newly released bodycam footage shows Booker T. Pannell III raising his hands and saying, “Please, please, I don’t want to die” first. Elk Grove Police officers chased him down a hotel hallway and shot him on February 21.

Pannell was pronounced dead at a hospital later that night. He was 40. In a brief phone conversation, his father – who shares his son’s first name – said: “He was a good person. He was a good man. That’s all I can say now.”

The Elk Grove Police Department on Friday night footage released by body-worn cameras and a hotel security camera. An investigation into the use of force by the officers is ongoing.

Pannell died during a continued local and national crackdown on police practices fueled by fatal encounters with law enforcement. In January, the death in Memphis, Tennessee, of Tire Nichols, a Black man who grew up in Sacramento, renewed scrutiny of police violence; Five officers face charges of second-degree murder in Nichols’ death.

Mapping Police Violence and local news coverage show that police killed six people in use of force incidents in Sacramento County last year.

Internal and external investigators have not determined whether officers followed proper protocols the night Pannell died.

What led to the death of Booker Pannell?

According to the video, someone called police on Feb. 21 to report a carjacking near Shana Way and Whitelock Parkway. Dispatch received the report at 10:32.

In the 911 excerpt in the video, the caller asks the police to come to his house. “My husband had an argument with his friend, and the friend took our car,” says the caller. “And he pulled a gun on my husband.”

An officer went to the house to take a statement from the husband. In the footage, the husband calmly comes out and talks to the officer. He explains: “My friend and his girlfriend came over, and I was sleeping. And long story short, he had some kind of side effects or whatever – I think he was on meth. So he was there with his girlfriend… he was paranoid, saying the cops were looking for drones, stuff like that. So I said, here, let me take you to the hospital.”

He said he had started driving to the hospital with his friend, Pannell, and activated his blinker to make a left turn at Whitelock when the friend said: “You in this too.” He said his friend started screaming, and said, “They’re coming to get me.” He said Pannell pulled out his gun, pointed it at him, and then pointed it at his own head.

The husband fled the car. He told the officer, “I thought he was going to kill me.”

Around 11:40 p.m., the video says, officers went to the Holiday Inn Express at Stockton Boulevard and Laguna Boulevard, just off Highway 99. An employee at the hotel had reported a disturbance. A very brief clip of security footage from the Holiday Inn shows a man in the lobby leaning on the front desk; that footage has no audio.

When police arrived, they saw the car that had been reported stolen sitting empty in the Holiday Inn parking lot. They determined that Pannell was the man in the lobby.

In the video, four officers walk through the lobby’s automatic sliding doors and three immediately raise their guns. One puts down his weapon and switches to a taser.

Body-worn camera footage shows officers yelling at Pannell, “Hands up.” He puts his hands up. More officers then shout, “Get on the ground” several times, and one of the officers directs, “A person is speaking.” Pannell says something inaudible, then appears to say, “There are people trying to kill me.”

A female officer shouts, “You will be tased; put it on the ground.”

Taser fired, then fired

Several officers shouted more commands at Pannell. He held his stiff hands up in front of him. Pannell says, “I don’t want to die. Please, please. I don’t want to die. Listen, please. Please.”

In response, the female officer yells, “Taser, taser, taser” and fires it.

The interaction from the moment the sliding door opened to the moment the officer deployed his taser lasted 35 seconds.

It is unclear whether the taser actually hit Pannell. In the video, he runs away from the officers and chases him down a hallway.

In the footage from the chase, it’s hard to see what’s going on. An officer says, “He’s running, he’s got a gun.” An officer fires his weapon five times in the hotel hallway. The video says officers saw Pannell hold the gun to his own head as he ran away.

When the officer fired the first shot, a little more than a minute had passed since they entered the hotel.

“Stop moving!” an officer shouts down the hall. Outside the exit door, which broke the glass probably caused by the fire, an assistant is lying on the ground.

The officers shouted, “Let me see your hands! your hands!” Pannell is lying on the ground, a few meters away. The spectator raises his hands trembling. “Have you been shot?” an officer asks the spectator. (The video says the bystander was not hit by a bullet.)

When the officers approached Pannell, they saw that he had two gunshot wounds – to the leg and the head. As a male officer holds one of Pannell’s weapons, the female officer reaches for her gun.

The video says cops found a spent cassette outside the hotel that matched the ammunition in Pannell’s gun; they concluded that he only fired one shot, outside the hotel, after the police started shooting at him.

The text in the video says it’s not certain if the head wound was from the police officer’s gun, or if Pannell killed himself while police were chasing him. A coroner’s report is still pending.

The Elk Grove Police Department said it released the video before the investigation into the incident was concluded “in the interest of transparency with the community we serve.” They posted the video on YouTube Friday night, posting a link to Twitter at 7:15 p.m

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