For the first time ever, footage from a Viridian gun cam has cleared an officer from any wrongdoing. On Feb. 17, the Texas-based Vernon Police Department used footage from a Viridan FACT Duty Weapon-Mounted Camera (WMC) in court. One day later, the jury convicted the defendant of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon on a public official, a level one felony in Texas. We, at Tactical-Life.com, have the exclusive footage from both the body camera and Viridian gun cam.
Viridian Gun Cam Captures Shootout
The footage stems from an April 2019 shooting when Vernon Police Cpl. T.J. Session engaged in a wild shootout with the suspect, identified as Walter Orellana. When the bad guy leveled a sawed-off shotgun, the weapon camera captured the ensuing shootout.
Session’s body camera also captured the shootout. However, the weapon-mounted camera provided clear imagery the body camera couldn’t capture, ultimately blocked during the struggle. That footage showed Orellana pull a sawed-off shotgun. It also showed Session seemingly identify the weapon, disengage from the vehicle, and draw his service weapon, which is when the Viridian WMC began filming. Both men then began firing, with each ultimately taking rounds.
“It was vital that the Vernon PD had this evidentiary tool to provide the answers crucial to determining what happened in this unfortunate incident,” Viridian General Counsel Matthew Plowman said in a press release. “This trial perfectly illustrates why Weapon Mounted Cameras are critical in police officer Use of Force incidents for agencies and municipal officials to allow the courts to determine the facts.”
Session stopped the suspect to serve a felony arrest warrant. Orellana, a native of Honduras, allegedly continuously sexually assaulted a 9-year-old girl from 2013 to 2014 while living with the girl’s family after moving to the United States, according to timesrecordnews.com. After only minimal questioning, the suspect turned violent in an instant.
The Evidence and Sentencing
Session is certainly lucky to survive the attack, but the video system helped exonerate his actions and provide clear evidentiary data.
“This is a historic event,” Viridian President and CEO Brian Hedeen told Tactical-Life.com. “This is the first Officer Involved Shooting in the world to be captured by a gun camera. We salute the heroic actions of Corporal T.J. Session, the other Vernon PD officers and all police officers across the country.”
Both Sessions and Orellana recovered from their wounds. A Wilbarger County jury sentenced Orellana to 40 years in prison as a result of the footage.