By Cameron Probert
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KENNEWICK, Washington — A new video shows the tense gun battle between a Kennewick police officer and a wanted felon in an apartment complex.
Kennewick police released body camera footage from Officer Avery Smith as she bailed out of her car and exchanged bullets with the Anthony Martinez-Mata at the Clearwater Bay Apartments at 6:20 p.m. on Sept. 13.
The nearly 10-minute critical incident briefing video details the events surrounding the gun fight and the two-hour standoff that followed.
It includes footage from Smith and an unnamed officer with the Tri-City Regional SWAT Team.
“The intent of this update is to provide understanding and transparency about this critical incident,” Kennewick Chief Chris Guerrero said in the video.
The release is separate from the weekly updates by the Regional Special Investigations Unit about the shooting.
The unit, which draws officers from across Benton, Franklin and Walla Walla counties, is tasked with investigating whether officers broke any laws when they open fire. Kennewick police will not be part of this investigation.
The department is doing a separate investigation into whether Smith followed all of the department’s policies and procedures when she fired at Martinez-Mata, 26.
Smith has worked for the department for five years. She graduated from the Washington State Police Academy in December 2017.
On the day of the shooting, Kennewick and Richland police along with Benton County sheriff’s deputies were conducting a sweep, looking for several people on outstanding warrants.
One was Martinez-Mata, who was wanted for allegedly threatening a man with a gun in the Kennewick WinCo parking lot. Prosecutors have not charged him in that incident.
He also was wanted for failing to check-in after he was released on a 2018 conviction for drive-by shooting.
A police officer spotted him in a car at 51 N. Edison St. As officers closed in, he jumped out and ran toward a motorcycle in the Clearwater Bay Apartments.
The video says Smith caught up with him as he tried to start the motorcycle. When it wouldn’t start, he left the bike and bolted into the complex of buildings.
She followed him in her car until she spotted him, and the shots started. The video shows he fired four times and she fired three volleys, including a single shot, then what sounds like three or four more shots, followed by a rapid string of eight or nine shots.
He ran into a stranger’s apartment, and the resident was able to slip out of a window. Martinez-Mata was barricaded in the room for hours while he negotiated with the SWAT team members and eventually surrendered.
He had minor wounds and was treated before being taken to the Benton County jail, where he is being held on first-degree assault, illegal gun possession and first-degree trespassing charges.
Smith’s contact with Martinez-Mata was a little more than a minute-and-a-half, according to the video.
It starts in silence because the body camera system keeps a 30-second buffer at the beginning of the video when it’s activated. She is seen driving and then stops in front of a parking shelter. Martinez-Mata is on a motorcycle.
The footage is initially unclear but then the bike can be seen on the ground. Smith gets back into the patrol car, and starts following Martinez-Mata into the complex.
She can be heard asking someone if they saw where Martinez-Mata went.
She later told another officer that she saw him with the gun pointed at the patrol car. The camera catches her hurriedly bailing out of the car as the first gunshot rings out. The second one sounds as she starts moving toward the back of the car.
After Martinez-Mata fires a third time, Smith tells emergency dispatchers, “Shots fired.” The video shows her firing once at him, and then what sounds like four more rounds.
Martinez-Mata fires one more shot, according to the video.
Smith’s camera picks up the sound of someone yelling before she says, “Show me your hands! Drop the gun! Drop the gun!”
She then fires what sounds like eight or nine more shots before taking out the magazine and putting it on the trunk of her car. It appears there is still at least one bullet remaining.
After the last volley, Smith radios in that she is not hit, and that he’s running east from the C-building.
It remains unclear if any of the bullets hit Martinez-Mata. He later showed up in Superior Court with a wound on his forehead and a brace on his arm.
Smith said he was still wearing the motorcycle helmet at the time.
Kennewick police released video showing the final moments after he left the apartment at 8:35 p.m. Police call for him to walk out to them.
As they are putting the handcuffs on him, an officer says he knows that it’s going to hurt, but he needs to put his left arm behind him.
An officer says that they are providing medical aid, but they would like emergency medical staff.
Martinez-Mata was taken to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
(c)2022 Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, Wash.)
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