North Carolina patrol releases video of fatal shooting

A motorist had a gun drawn as he exited a pickup truck during a traffic stop for not wearing a seatbelt and was fatally shot by a North Carolina state trooper, it was shown a video released Tuesday by the State Highway Patrol.

Private Rodney Cook, a 16-year veteran of the patrol, shot and killed 21-year-old Mark Anthony Diaz of Staley on May 30. The video was released after a judge signed a motion filed at the patrol’s request.

“Sergeant, he pointed a gun at me,” Cook told a supervisor who arrived moments after the shooting. “Scary seat belt violation. Shortly after this comment, the sound of the video is muted. Diaz didn’t shoot until he was hit, video showed.

Cook was placed on routine administrative duty during an internal investigation, the Highway Patrol said last week.

The full video is nearly 37 minutes long, and a shorter version, which includes a narrative describing the incident and pausing the action several times to focus on the weapon Diaz was holding, was provided by the patrol.

The shorter version begins as Cook turns around on US Highway 64 in Siler City to overtake a truck whose occupants were not wearing seat belts, according to the story. His chase ends shortly after the truck pulls into a residential area.

Cook calls out the license plate as he and the truck stop at an intersection. The policeman identifies himself and tells the driver that he stopped him because he was not wearing a seatbelt. Cook asks the driver to speak and tells him the law says he must wear his seatbelt no matter where he is.

The policeman then asks for the driver’s license and registration, and the driver, whose voice is barely audible, apparently says he has no ID. Cook says he smells like marijuana and asks the driver to get out. According to the patrol, Diaz pulls out a gun, which Cook tries to block before retreating to the back of the truck. The gun Diaz was carrying was circled in red in the shorter video.

From the back of the truck, Cook turns around and points his service weapon at Diaz, who is out of the truck. The soldier fires once and Diaz, still holding the gun in his left hand but not pointed at the soldier, falls backwards. The truck rolls and appears to hit a vehicle parked on the street, and the passenger flees. Patrol said the passenger, who was also not wearing a seatbelt, returned during the investigation.

Diaz rolls slightly to his left and Cook repeats the command to him to drop the gun. His right leg and right arm move slightly, and Cook pulls the gun out of Diaz’s hand as he calls in the report of the shots fired. As Diaz’s body stops moving, Cook begins performing CPR on Diaz.

“Stay with me,” Cook tells Diaz while trying to revive him. “Come on, son. Go on. Come on, sir.

Diaz, still lying in the middle of the street, doesn’t seem to be moving on his own. Later, Cook appears to be moaning in frustration that the man is unresponsive and calls to find out when an ambulance arrives. “Come on, EMS,” he said, still applying the chest compressions. He tells a resident who approaches him to move away because he doesn’t want him to see what happened.

About 7 minutes after Cook began chest compressions, police arrived and took over from Cook, who told them, “I don’t think this is good. He tells the police what happened and that he fired a shot. He tells the supervisor that no shots were fired at him.

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