RUTHERFORDTON — Ethan Calton’s wife Danielle, whose husband was shot in the back by RC Sheriff’s Deputy Sgt. Tyler Greene, has filed a motion for contempt against District Attorney Ted Bell. According to the filing the version of deputy’s body cam video was not in compliance with the visiting Superior Court Judge Bill Wood’s order. Further, the court filing suggests the video appears to have been altered to obfuscate what happened. Ted Bell declined to prosecute Greene.
Defense attorney Andrew LaBreche filed the motion since the judge had ruled that the video only blur or shade the faces of those in the video while keeping the audio authentic. The judge also gave Bell a deadline to allow the family of Calton to view the body-cam video after Bell had stalled for almost 6 months. The shooting had occurred on Dec 1, 2020.
The contempt motion claims the video had been altered and too much content blurred, in particular, a view of the deceased and the placement of Calton’s gun. The question of whether Calton ever removed his gun from the holster looms over the incident. LaBreche contends too much footage was edited out, leaving the footage useless in determining what happened to result in deadly force.
“Because one of the primary issues involved with this situation is when the gun was removed from Ethan’s holster, I am requesting that the video be produced without his body being blurred,” the filing stated.
“…when Ethan is falling to the ground, a significant portion of the screen to the left of his body vanishes. As noted above, one of the most salient questions involved in this matter is when and how the gun came out of Ethan’s holster and who was responsible for the gun landing where it did. In the attached screenshot from the video, the far-left portion of the screen that would seemingly answer the question of whether Ethan tossed the gun (or whether is flew from his hand) to the landing spot is missing from the video. In the still shot that was publicly released, however, the area to the left of Ethan’s body is visible. How was that part of the video visible in the publicly released still shot, yet missing from the publicly released video when the still shot was taken from that same video?” LaBreche argues. He is asking the judge to have Bell provide all of the video prior to any manipulations.
According to the filing there are other red flags in Bell’s version of the body-cam video such as:
- the time stamps on the viewed footage (usually remain in one fixed position) constantly shifted throughout the video,
- Bell’s explanation of specific events when the video did not reflect those actions. “Bell’ s public statement said ‘Mr. Calton managed to draw his handgun … The [Homeland Security] Agent grabbed M. Calton’s gun and tried to gain control of it . . . [and] Mr. Calton wrestled control of the gun from the Agent.’ Id. Bell further stated that ‘[a]s Mr. Calton continued to fight and struggle with the officers he worked his gun around until he had it pointed at the Homeland Security Agent’s upper abdomen/stomach area. The officer who was struggling with Mr. Calton from behind saw this’ and, as a result, shot Calton. Critically, Bell then stated that “Mr. Calton spun 180 degrees and his gun flew from his hand.” The video seemingly does not support the gun flew from his hand.
The Daily Courier reported that “Bell said he complied with the original court order.”
Local authorities claim Calton was killed when he resisted arrest while attempting to pull a handgun during a physical struggle with three officers. The autopsy reveals that Calton was shot in the back at point blank range.
The hearing is scheduled for Friday morning.