Newly released body camera footage from officers responding to the Pulse shooting shows gunfire from the shooter and a look inside the hospital, where police thought a second shooter was on the loose.
The 11 hours of video, redacted to remove scenes of the dead and the dying, reveals the most vivid look yet into what officers saw and heard during the Orlando nightclub massacre that left 49 people dead and dozens injured. It also shows how in the chaotic first hours, police, responding to an erroneous broadcast of a second gunman, handcuffed a terrified, bleeding survivor.
Footage from Bell Isle police officer Brandon Cornwell’s body camera shows officers crouched behind the main bar as the strobe lights pulsed and flickered off the disco balls. Dispatchers on the radio peg the number of wounded at around 20, signally this is early in the evening.
Suddenly, an officer off screen screams “Get your hands in the air!” and there’s a burst of gunfire. In previous interviews, Orlando Police Chief John Mina said the shooter, Omar Mateen, fired at the officers who had him pinned in the club’s back bathroom.
Minutes later the same cop screamed again, “You in the bathroom, let me see your hands. Now! Come out of there with your hands up or you will die!”
Back behind the bar, Officer Cornwell murmured a small prayer. “Oh, Lord Jesus, watch over me.”
About an hour later, a dispatcher announced over the radio that shots were fired at Orlando Regional Medical Center, the hospital down the street where many of the victims had been taken.
An Orlando officer named Edge, who was stationed behind the club, immediately scoffed to his fellow officers.
“That sounds like a fake call,” he said. “We would have heard that from here.”
Inside the hospital, Orlando police officers reacted immediately, searching for a potential threat. Footage from the body cam of an OPD officer named Davis’ showed officers following a trail of blood through the hospital’s basement in search of a second shooter.
At one point, the pack of police officers heard from a hospital staffer that the wounded man wasn’t running away, he was being helped by hospital staff. He directed the cops to the wounded man’s room.
The officer, who said he found him hiding in the shower, screamed, “Get your ass out here, now!”
The man answered back, “I can’t, I’m shot in the foot.”
“I don’t care. [Expletive] crawl to me right now!” the cop shouted. “Crawl to me right now, [expletive].”
Police cuffed the man, who was sprawled on the ground. The camera angle showed him wearing gray cargo shorts and a single white sneaker.
Davis leaned in and remarked out loud, “Look at his description. He kind of matches.”
“No, I’m shot in the foot,” the man protested.
“I do not care,” Davis responded.
Davis walked into the hallway and called a supervisor. He told him that the detained man “somewhat matches the description that was given out as a suspect. He’s got the chinstrap beard, he’s a bravo mike [black male], there was something that was said about him wearing an American flag shirt — and this is the guy.”
The footage didn’t capture the other end of the conversation, but Davis ended the call by promising to get the man treated, and vowing “Until we figure out what they have at Pulse, he’s staying with us.”
The footage ends with hospital staffers hoisting the wounded and cuffed man in a wheelchair.
Seven minutes after the initial call was broadcast, the dispatcher announced that officers had massed at the hospital and there were no shots fired there. Investigators determined there was no second shooter.