Officers speak about their perspective in life-saving takedown

(WSVN) - We already saw a tense standoff through the eyes of police officials. Tonight, we’re hearing what went through their minds, which led to a life-saving decision. That standoff and takedown was seen right here on just one station, and now those officers who were at the center of it are speaking exclusively to 7 in tonight’s Lowedown.

Tonight, the Miami-Dade Police officers wearing the body cameras take us deeper into what goes into these split second decisions that could mean life or death.

On body cam video, we can hear Miami-Dade Police Officer Thomas Kennedy plead with the subject. “He’s reaching for something. Put it down… put it down,” Kennedy said on body cam video. “Come on, buddy. Don’t do this. I don’t want to hurt you. I don’t want to hurt you. Put it down.”

It is one perspective to see Kennedy’s body camera video and another to hear him speak with the suspect who was holding a knife.

“What I try to do is to make eye contact with the subjects,” he told 7News. “What they have to understand is I’m talking to them as a human being.”

On Nov. 15, the suspect called 911 and threatened to hurt police officers. “Just because someone is in crisis doesn’t make them a criminal,” Kennedy said. “That’s the way we look at it.”

It’s a deeper level of insight when you speak with this 21-year veteran of Miami-Dade Police and his partner, Officer Phill Hall, who was on the scene in Southwest Miami-Dade.

“Every situation I have to save a life, I’m going to try my hardest to save a life,” Miami-Dade Police Officer Phill Hall said.

Kennedy was the one who held the Taser and Hall was off-camera. Another Miami-Dade Police officer held the suspect at gunpoint.

“Sir, listen to me,” said one officer, “put the knife down. We don’t want to hurt you.”

The suspect was in a mental health crisis, police said. He’s an ex-Marine who said he was depressed.

“We have dealt with the situation where someone says, ‘Look, I want you to kill me today,’ and we explain that if you do that, you won’t be here, and you put that on another human being that has to live with that for the rest of their lives,” Kennedy said.

In the middle of all this, there is a human element.

The suspect asked the officers to shoot him. “Shoot, shoot,” he said.

On the video, the officers refuse and continue to try to calm him down. “Nobody wants to hurt you,” one of the officers could be heard saying on the body cam.

The suspect then threatens the officer with the Taser. “If you keep coming closer, you’ll get it,” he said. “I got a second when it hits me to come back to you. I’ve been shot before… I’m a father.”

Despite all that is happening, it resonated with Kennedy that the suspect is a father.

“Being a father myself, I understand what he’s going through,” Hall said, “and if we were to take his life, it not only affects him. It affects his children. It also affects us.”

Officer Phill Hall knows too well about the preciousness of life.

“Back in April, we had a drowning of a 2-year-old. I administered CPR, and we end up saving that child’s life,” Hall said.

That case stayed with him and now both Hall and Kennedy are faced with a another life.

“We saved a life. We saved his life, and I think we made a difference in his life and his child’s life,” Hall said.

“We’ve saved lives in our career, and that’s why we got this job, to be honest with you,” Kennedy said.

These officers are well aware of the controversies over police-involved shootings. Sometimes they hear the criticism, but because of body cameras, we are all given a new perspective into their lives and into their split second decisions.

“More communication and understanding on both sides,” said Hall.

Kennedy and Hall hope their brave actions will have a legacy. Not only in saving life, but in opening the community’s eyes into their value of life.

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