The Baltimore Police officer who shot and killed “No Shoot Zone” community activist Tyree Moorehead opened fire as Moorehead was on top of a woman and holding a butcher’s knife near her head, body camera footage shared with the public on Tuesday showed.

Moorehead was shot more than a dozen times by Officer Zachary Rutherford, who has been with the department since March of this year and was previously an officer with the Maryland Transportation Administration for three years.

Rutherford opened fire shortly after arriving at the scene with an officer in training, Michael Hazel, who radioed for backup but did not appear to fire his weapon. Hazel has been with the department since December last year, having graduated from the Police Academy in August and after finishing his field training at the end of October.

Both officers have been placed on administrative duty pending the outcome of the shooting investigation, per department policy.

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On Tuesday afternoon, Baltimore Police Commissioner Harrison released the body-worn footage from this past Sunday’s fatal shooting of Tyree Moorehead. He and Deputy Commissioner Brian Nadeau walked through the footage with members of the press and answered a few questions. (Baltimore Police)

The two officers were responding to a report of a male holding a knife to the neck of a female and arrived within two minutes of the call, according to Baltimore Police Deputy Commissioner Brian Nadeau, who oversees internal investigations.

Nadeau and Police Commissioner Michael Harrison walked reporters through the body camera footage and stated facts, but declined to offer any opinions on whether the officer’s actions were appropriate, citing the active investigation.

They did, however, emphasize their belief that the officer’s actions prevented the woman from being hurt.

“We can see it’s clear that the officer saved that lady’s life out there that day,” Harrison said.

Nadeau said that the woman who was on the ground with Moorehead told police she was on her way to the grocery store and did not have any prior relationship with Moorehead.

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Harrison declined to say whether it was within protocol for the officer to continue to fire after Moorehead appeared to roll off the woman when he was first shot in the back.

When asked whether the officer took enough time to assess the scene before opening fire, Harrison said that the answer to that depends on what the officer is witnessing in real time.

“What we saw the officer witness is a large butcher’s knife ... in his hand, struggling with this female and you saw him get back on top of the female with the knife right at the female’s head,” Harrison said. “And this had been going on for some time before the officers got there. So it’s not for us to answer the question. That’s why we have an investigation.”

Seth Stoughton, a former police officer who now works as a professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law, reviewed the video after it was uploaded to YouTube.

Stoughton said most of the shots fired by the officer did not strike him as problematic because Moorehead was on the ground with a knife in close proximity to a woman he appeared to be attacking.

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Less alternative means of force, such as a Taser, which has a significant fail rate, or trying to pull Moorehead off of the victim he was allegedly assaulting, would have left open the possibility that the woman or one of the responding officers would be stabbed, he added.

“It looks to me like this officer had to use a very serious amount of force, the highest level of force, deadly force, to address a situation that did not appear to allow for a lesser alternative,” Stoughton said. “The one caveat I have is the last shot the officer fires.”

That last shot, Stoughton said, came after Moorehead was on his back, and was no longer appearing to get up. He said the officer could have seen something off camera that prompted him to fire the last shot, but that any critical line of inquiry would likely focus on the final shot.

“We expect and demand that officers are able to reassess the situation so that they don’t keep firing when the situation has changed and deadly force is no longer justified,” Stoughton said.

Police showed the body camera footage to reporters shortly after sharing it with elected officials and the Baltimore branch of the NAACP. As the press conference was wrapping up, representatives from the NAACP questioned why the officer fired 14 shots and what type of mental health services were made available to Moorehead.

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Friends and relatives of Moorehead said he was living a life in turmoil during the months between when he was shot in early August by an unknown assailant from the neighborhood and the police shooting.

“The life of a community member was lost on Sunday and that is never a situation to be taken lightly,” said Nicole Chang, the Baltimore NAACP’s criminal justice and public safety chair.

“This incident is an opportunity for us to have an open and honest conversation in our community, with BPD and with city leadership about how we can provide the best possible support for loved ones and community members that may be experiencing a mental health crisis and make a real investment in how publicly funded agencies can intervene in the most effective way.”