TUSCALOOSA, AL (WBRC) - Tuscaloosa Police have released the 911 call and body camera and dash camera video from the arrest of Anthony Ware, who was pepper sprayed and died in police custody.
Police chased 35-year-old Ware into woods near an apartment on Friday, July 10 while they were attempting to arrest him. Ware had a warrant out for his arrest on a domestic violence strangulation charge. Officers caught up with Ware and during a struggle, sprayed him with pepper spray. After officials sprayed him and they were removing him from the woods, Ware became distressed and had trouble breathing. He was later pronounced dead at a Tuscaloosa area hospital.
The YouTube video released by police begins with a 911 caller reporting that he has seen Ware at an apartment in the 200 block of 49th Avenue East. The caller gives a detailed description of where they saw Ware. The voice of the caller has been disguised and parts of the call are bleeped out to protect the identity of the caller.
The caller says Ware is armed with a .22. On Monday, Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steven Anderson said officers had not recovered a weapon.
The caller calls back several times. One time, they ask police to ask if officers had made it out to the scene yet. A police officer tells her that other officers are on the way. In another call, the caller gives officers a description of what Ware was wearing. The caller repeats again that Ware is armed.
The first piece of dash cam video from Unit 183 shows multiple police vehicles drive up to 49th Avenue East around 9:20 p.m. As they stop, a man can be seen running to the right and out of frame and officers follow.
About 45 minutes after the officers arrive on scene, a fire truck pulls up in frame. Residents can be seen coming out of their homes as well. For most of this video, there is no audio.
Audio kicks back in around 10: 20 p.m. (22:20) on the dash camera video. Multiple officers can be seen walking back towards their vehicles and their police lights are turned off. Unit 183 leaves 49th Avenue East around 10:22 p.m. (22:22.) That video cuts off after a few minutes.
A new piece of video starts that appears to be from a body camera, timestamp 9:30 p.m. (21:30). You can hear a male officer speaking on a comm link, who appears to be waiting to assist other officers. He accelerates in his vehicle before advising dispatch other officers on on a foot pursuit.
At one point the officer expresses frustration, saying "I told y'all to wait." At another point in the video, it becomes clear he's referring to other officers. This officer says he wanted to get in position on another end of the street before the other officers pulled up on 49th Avenue East.
At about 9:34 p.m., the officer stops near a wooded area, telling dispatch he thinks officers have Ware "blocked off." He get out of his patrol car around 9:34 p.m.
At 9:36 p.m., you can hear dispatchers say over the officer's radio that Ware is in custody. That piece of video cuts off around 9:37 p.m.
We do not see Ware being pepper sprayed in any of the video released.
A new section of body camera, with the same male officer, video picks up around 9:46 p.m. He can be seen walking with some residents and tells them Ware has been caught.
The officer walks towards 49th Avenue East where multiple police vehicles are staged. The officer tells several residents to go home.
At 9:48 p.m., we can hear someone off camera say officers have Ware in cuffs but they can't seem to get him up. Police have said that officers pursued Ware into a wooded area before apprehending him.
The officer then walks through the woods behind some of the apartments. He stops and appears to be listening or looking for other officers.
At 9:53, he asks "can we literally drag him out?" Someone responds off screen but it's hard to hear their words.
While the officer clears some thorny vines to bring Ware out, they discuss how to bring Ware out of the woods. The officer asks Ware, "can you roll over?"
At 9:59 p.m., they are still trying to bring Ware out of the Woods but are blocked by a log and brush. One officer says he's still breathing but "won't cooperate."
Officers call for a back board and asks the rescue crew to come check on Ware. At 10 p.m., the call again for rescue and tell people to stay off the radio so they can call.
At 10:01 p.m., an officer asks if Ware has a pulse. Another officer responds in the negative and says Ware's pupils are dilated and fixed. Someone off frame then says, "Come on, rescue." Body camera footage shows officers performing CPR on Ware.
Rescue arrives around 10:05 p.m. At 10:07 p.m., an officer says he's going to go get a machete from his truck to clear some of the brush.
At 10:09 p.m., crews are struggling to pull Ware from the woods. They are finally able to pull him out around 10:11 p.m. and get him on an emergency board and can be seen moving quickly towards open ground.
Around 10:13 p.m., we can hear people yelling in the background in the body camera video. Officers mentioned several times that there was a crowd of people gathering. Two officers approach the crowd and ask them to remain calm but the crowd is upset seeing Ware.
At 10:16 p.m., the body camera video shows rescue crews putting Ware into ambulance. A crowd has gathered and many of the residents are angry and yelling.
The ambulance leaves the scene at 10:18 p.m.
Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steven Anderson held a press conference Wednesday afternoon about an hour after releasing the video to the public. He said he watched the video with Ware's family on Wednesday morning. He said there has been an autopsy but investigators do not have a cause of death yet.
Police say that the family has set up a GoFundMe to pay for Ware's funeral. Visit http://www.gofundme.com/z4hrak if you would like to donate.
Police ask people to only donate to that account because Ware's family said they have seen at least one other fake donation account.
Anderson feels officers acted professionally.
"They went out in one mode to take a person into custody and they later did everything they could to try and save that individuals life. I hope the people will take away from the video," Anderson said. "I'm positive that there will be no injuries caused by the officers that resulted in his death."
Anderson said a majority of Tuscaloosa officers didn't have body cameras that night because only 60 of nearly 300 of them have that gear right now.
After one of the responding officers brought it up, Anderson also wants to get Automated External Defibrillators (AED) out on the streets with his officers. He thinks that could have helped in this situation and in the future.
The Tuscaloosa County Homicide Unit is investigating. Tuscaloosa Police Sgt. Brent Blankley says the Homicide team that will be doing the investigation is made up of supervisors and non-Tuscaloosa Police Investigators.
Disclaimer: Some of the video is disturbing. There is strong language used in parts of the video and some of the footage does show Ware. If you would like to listen and watch click here.