State Watch

Body camera footage shows park ranger shooting, killing unarmed visitor

Video recently released by the National Parks Service shows a park ranger in New Mexico fatally shooting an unarmed man who had been pulled over for speeding on a dirt road.

The video, obtained by local news affiliate KOB4, shows National Park Ranger Robert Mitchell standing some distance from Charles Lorentz and aiming a stun gun at him. Lorentz had apparently stopped for driving at an unsafe speed near Carlsbad Caverns, a national park and popular tourist attraction. In the video, Lorentz refuses to turn around and take his hands out of his jacket pockets and Mitchell deploys the stun gun before the video goes black.

When the video returns Mitchell is seen on top of Lorentz, then shoots him twice. One shot apparently struck Lorentz in the thigh; the second entered his heart, killing him. After the shooting ends, Mitchell handcuffs Lorentz and declares him “under arrest.” 

An attorney for Lorentz’s family told the news outlet that they plan to file suit against the Interior Department and U.S. Parks Service over their son’s death. A police report said Lorentz was found to be unarmed at the time of the shooting, and toxicology reports indicated he was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

“Let’s start with the fact that this man takes a Taser and shoots Gage with no provocation from Gage whatsoever,” the attorney, Shannon Kennedy, told the news station. “There is no communication, there is no de-escalation. That park ranger is insane. He’s out of his mind. What is he arresting him for? Driving too fast down a country road? And he takes his life over that? It’s a citation. It’s a warning. It’s not a death sentence.”

Mitchell is on paid administrative leave, a Parks Service spokesperson told KOB4.

Video of the shooting, which occurred in March, comes as nationwide protests have erupted over police brutality and use of force in response to the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis after an officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.

Tags Carlsbad Caverns Colorado George Floyd protests

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