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Greensboro police release body cam video of deadly officer-involved shooting of Chieu Vo

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The Greensboro Police Department released the body cam video Wednesday of the deadly officer-involved shooting of Chieu Vo in March 2014.

Editor's note: This video is disturbing and may be difficult to watch for some viewers. Viewer discretion is advised. 

The video is being released at the request of the Vo family and after the Greensboro City Council voted to release the footage.

The Vo family saw the body camera video of the incident last week for the first time and their attorney Tin Nguyen called the shooting unjustified.

However, Greensboro Police Chief Wayne Scott called the shooting both reasonable and justified.

Scott and other police officers provided details about the circumstances leading up to the fatal shooting.

911 calls show a witness called authorities, stating Vo was chasing her mother around with a knife. A 911 caller identified the knife as a meat cleaver. Capt. Mike Richey says the blade was eight inches and took up the majority of Vo’s forearm.

When the officer arrived on the scene, he asks witnesses the whereabouts of Vo. A witness who called 911 responds to the officer. During that interaction, the body camera video shows Vo running towards the officer with a knife in her left hand. The video captures the officer screaming, “put it down,” before firing several rounds.

Former Greensboro police officer Tim Bloch maintains that his use of deadly force was justified.

“My training took over and it’s what probably saved my life,” Bloch said.

Bloch showed up to the police department to share his side of the story after the video was released to the media. He was met by several protestors voicing concerns about the police and about the handling of the Vo case.

When the Greensboro City Council voted to release the footage on Monday, Bloch said at the meeting that he did not want the video released and said the video did not tell the full story.

Bloch says the video doesn’t show him giving Vo first aid after the shooting.

Bloch also fears the backlash that could come from this video’s release.

Bloch was cleared of any wrongdoing by law enforcement investigations and left the force in 2014.

Scott says the shooting played out like this: When the officer arrived at the scene and came in contact with Vo, she was 40 feet away. The officer gave her four commands, and when Vo became within 12 feet away from the officer, Bloch fired four shots. When Vo continued towards Bloch and was 4 feet away from him, he issued two more commands at her and then fired one more shot.

Scott says the shooting incident lasted for about six seconds.

Vo was shot on March 25, 2014, and died at Moses Cone Hospital on March 27, 2014.

Witnesses told police this was not the first time Vo had an argument with her mother. During a press conference, officers stated a witness had seen at least one prior, loud altercation.

Vo’s family has commented that she suffered from bipolar disorder. Captain Richey says Vo was taking a number of medications for mental health issues and at one point, almost two decades prior to the fatal shooting, had been mentally committed by family members.

The video shown to the public was the same video shown to city council members and to the Vo family. Police did slow down the video for the media.

City council members adopted a policy saying that from now on police body camera video will be released at the discretion of the city manager.

Executive Director of Southeast Asian Coalition Cat Bao Le says the Vo family was not contacted well in advance about the video’s scheduled public release date. Le’s organization helped the Vo family find an attorney to represent them. Le says neither city officials or police officers gave them ample notice. Le says the victim’s family found out in the middle of the afternoon.

"We have serious concerns about the process in which the city has taken on to release the video,” Le said.

Le and members of the Charlotte-based organization rushed to Greensboro immediately to show support for the Vo family.