Police release video of suspect shooting a Decatur officer


DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) — Decatur police have released harrowing body camera video of a suspect shooting a police officer during a foot chase this month.

Police Chief Shane Brandel on Thursday also identified the officer for the first time. She is Stephanie Vail, who has been on the force for six years and currently assigned to the patrol division. Brandel said Vail is out of the hospital and continues to recover.

Decatur police released two videos of the incident on its Facebook page. We want to warn you some of the content may be disturbing.

Each video is around 90 seconds long. One video is from the officer’s squad car. The other, which is the more compelling of the two, is from Vail’s body camera. At 30 seconds into that video, Vail gets out of her squad car to pursue the suspect, 23-year-old Joseph L. Williams, who police said had committed traffic violations.

“Subject’s running northbound,” Vail says just before she gets out of her car. As Vail runs between houses, she shouts, “Stop!” and “Decatur police, stop!” Just as Vail gets those words out – at 50 seconds into the video – a bang is heard, Vail cries out, and she falls to the ground.

Vail then speaks into her police radio, “Shots fired, shots fired, [suspect] still running northbound. I was hit with something. Still running northbound on Maffit [Street]. I’m bleeding.” Vail gets up for a moment while breathing heavily, then squats back down. “If we have a K9 [police dog], I can let you know where to go. Maffit [Street] just north of Clay [Street].”

Vail then describes the suspect on her police radio, saying “Black male wearing all black. Black hoodie.” She adds, “give me an ambulance.” Vail then starts to walk back toward her car as the video ends. Decatur police officials earlier said another officer took Vail to the hospital. Vail got treatment for wounds to her face and shoulder.

“As the Chief of Police, I want to commend the officers and detectives of the Decatur Police Department,” Brandel said in a statement. “The dedication of the men and women of DPD is inspiring to me and makes me proud to be a part of this organization. I also want to thank the community for the words of support and encouragement. In the current climate, all law enforcement officers appreciate hearing and knowing they are supported by the communities they serve.”

Williams was later arrested and charged in court. Charges include attempted murder and being a felon in possession of a machine gun. Williams remains in jail on $10 million bond. He has a court date Thursday morning.

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