Police in Baltimore have released to the public only a fraction of a police bodycam video that was shown in its entirety to media. The video depicts the fatal shooting of man suspected of taking two children hostage. Police defended the move, contending that they do not want to cause further trauma to the children who were held at the point of a knife by Reno Owens Jr., 39, on March 24 at approximately 7 a.m. 
The video, as seen by local WBAL-TV News, depicts Baltimore Officer Zachary Wein of a special weapons and tactics team as he brought to a close the hostage-taking situation. Wein received an order from his supervisor: "I want you to walk in there and kill this guy. He is highly agitated, has a knife at the kids' throats. There's no need for less lethal." The order came after but 30 minutes of tense negotiations. 
Members of the media saw that in the video, Owens was seated on a bed where he was holding the two kids, ages 1 and 4, on his lap. In one hand, he had a foot-long knife. The video recorded that Owens demanded: "Go get the father now! Your daughter is gone, cuz."
The two children screamed, calling for their father. Meanwhile, Owens sang, "Rock a Bye Baby," and then warned, "You had to rock the cradle, cuz. Ain't gonna be no tomorrow."
At that point, Officer Wein was walking up the stairs and preparing to fire. Police then tell Owens, "We just want to talk to you, OK? We don't want to hurt anybody."
Owens response was: "I'd rather go out like this."
A moment later, Owens got his wish when the officer fired a single shot into his head. Owens was dead instantly. However, two child hostages were safe and unharmed. 
Afterward, Police Commissioner Kevin Davis commended officers of the department and defended the order to keep part of the video confidential. Davis said, "We didn't want to create a media or a video footprint that they would be exposed to intentionally, maybe, or unintentionally, probably, that would further traumatize them as they go on and live their lives."
The video also showed that the mother of the hostages was frantically attempting to get a key to allow the police into the house when the incident began. Of Owens, she said, "His mind is somewhere else." The man was described as a homeless relative who had been given a place to sleep. During the night, he obtained a knife and threatened the children. He appeared to be under the influence of an unknown substance.
Hostage negotiators were called the scene, they arrived after the shooting. Commissioner Davis said there was no time to lose.



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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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