Huntersville, NC police ordered a 76-year-old Hurricane Irma evacuee to drop his gun before and after they shot him in a hospital hallway in September, according to video released Monday by the Huntersville Police Department. The gun is not visible in the video before the shooting. In December, Mecklenburg County District Attorney Spencer Merriweather ruled two Huntersville police officers were justified in shooting and killing James Charles Cook, who was a patient at Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center. A nurse came to Cook’s room around 11:30 p.m. on Sept. 10 and saw him pull a gun out of his suitcase, according to investigation records released with the DA’s report. She ran away from the room and was returning with a security guard when she heard a gunshot, the records said. The security guard, who was unarmed, watched Cook walk out of his room holding a gun, records said. The Huntersville officers, Michael Joseph and Travis Watts, responded to the hospital after hearing reports that a man had fired shots there. On the video released Monday, filmed by Joseph’s body camera, Watts can be seen with a black shield and a gun.
The video showed the officers looking for Cook in the hospital and riding an elevator before they found him near a nurses’ station. “Sir, show me your hands! Show me your hands! Do it now!” one officer said. Another voice said “got a gun” as shots rang out, creating a breeze that turned the pages of a binder on the nurses’ station counter. In interviews with State Bureau of Investigations officials, Watts and Joseph both said they saw Cook point a gun at Watts before they fired, according to the DA’s report. The officers shot Cook just past the two-minute mark of the video, and Cook is not visible in the video before or during the shooting. Officers continued to point their guns at Cook after shooting him. “Sir! Put that gun down! Drop the gun … do not move! Do not move!” an officer said to Cook. One officer, apparently concerned about the possibility of other attackers, told another to “check our backs and make sure nobody’s gonna shoot us.” During the rest of the nine-minute video, the officers talked to colleagues about checking the rest of the hospital and keeping an eye on Cook’s gun. “How in the world did he get a gun in a hospital?” one officer asked near the end of the video.