Authorities released a 27-minute video compilation* Friday showing the Berkeley police shooting of a man wielding a long metal chain after a robbery at the downtown Walgreens in early January.
The man, 51-year-old San Francisco resident Vincent Bryant, was taken to the hospital after the shooting and was expected to survive, BPD said. Bryant has been charged with multiple violent felonies in connection with the incidents of Jan. 2. (Police previously said Bryant had no permanent address.)
The Jan. 2 incident was the first time a Berkeley police officer has shot and wounded a suspect since 2012. Last year, a Berkeley police officer fired her gun at a driver fleeing a robbery scene but she did not hit him. Berkeleyside will have an update on that case soon.
The compilation video released Friday — which appears below — includes surveillance footage from the night of the Berkeley police shooting, emergency dispatch audio recordings and body-camera footage from BPD officers who were present that night. In the video, Berkeley police warn viewers that the footage of the shooting may be disturbing: “When a police officer uses force to arrest a suspect or defend against an attack, it can be graphic and difficult to watch. In addition, there may be strong language used by those shown in the video. Viewer discretion is advised — especially for young children and sensitive viewers.”
The Jan. 2 incident started, according to court papers, when Bryant walked into the downtown Berkeley Walgreens at 2190 Shattuck Ave. just after 8:20 p.m. He selected a number of food items valued at $14 and placed them at the register, according to court papers. Police said Bryant left $1 on the counter then walked toward the store exit.
“An employee confronted Bryant and told him he needed to pay for the items. Bryant pulled out a long metal chain from his bag and threatened to break all the windows,” police wrote. “Out of fear, the employee exited the store and called for police.”
BPD said officers saw Bryant walking nearby on Bancroft Way. They tried to detain him, BPD said previously, but he walked into the Tang Center courtyard at 2222 Bancroft Way, about four blocks from Walgreens.
Police said in court papers that Bryant ultimately pulled out a 13-foot-long metal chain when officers confronted him, then “whipped it on the ground,” telling police: “My weapon of choice is a fucking gun, but God wants me to use this on your ass.” He then “raised the chain in the air to signify his intent to use the chain as a weapon,” police wrote.
“A negotiator-trained officer attempted to de-escalate the suspect, but he continued to speak and act in an erratic manner,” according to BPD. When police tried to take Bryant into custody, BPD said, he ignored their orders “and advanced toward the officers.”
According to the video footage, the confrontation took place just before 8:40 p.m. when a small group of officers in the designated “contact team” moved into the courtyard and ordered Bryant repeatedly to “drop the chain.”
Police said he did not comply, so officers fired 40mm “less-than-lethal” foam projectiles at him. BPD said Bryant continued to advance on them — in the video it appears he is moving quickly toward them at a side angle as he swings the chain in his right hand and looks repeatedly in their direction — so Officer Madison Albrandt fired her gun, striking Bryant in the jaw. Footage of the police shooting appears approximately 24 minutes into the Berkeley PD compilation.
According to the video footage, the shooting followed approximately 10 minutes of de-escalation efforts by officers who tried to convince Bryant to drop the chain and talk with them. During the exchange, Bryant at times responded in a direct way to officer questions and comments, and also made various threats, at one point saying, “I’m going to make you watch me kill your family.”
But he also rambled, at other times, in an incoherent manner and described seeing things that weren’t there, according to the footage released Friday. According to dispatch recordings released as part of the video compilation, a dispatcher told officers in the initial stages of the call that the suspect might have psychiatric issues.
On Jan. 6, the Alameda County district attorney’s office charged Bryant with armed robbery, assault on a peace officer and resisting arrest, as well as parole violation. All of the charges are listed as felonies and include special allegations that two of the felonies should be considered serious or violent, and that Bryant used a deadly weapon — a metal chain — during the robbery.
According to court papers, Bryant has felony convictions for home burglary, in 2019 and 1997, and grand theft auto in 2018. He is alleged to have one strike.
Bryant’s first court date is not currently listed in the court records available online and he does not appear to be in custody in Alameda County jails. At the time of last report, he remained in the hospital. Berkeleyside has asked BPD for a status update but no additional information about his whereabouts was available as of publication time.
In its statement Friday, BPD said the police shooting is being investigated by the department’s homicide and internal affairs bureaus. The night of the shooting, the DA’s office was also notified, in line with department policy, and Albrandt was placed on administrative leave.
“The investigations are intended to gather all information to determine whether the officer’s actions fell within applicable law and department policy,” BPD said. “Once completed and reviewed, the full investigations will be available to the public.”
On Friday, Berkeley PD released the video compilation of the police shooting as required by state law.
Berkeleyside has also obtained from BPD, through a Public Records Act request, all available raw footage of the incident held by the agency and will be reviewing it in the coming days as we continue to cover the story.
Note: Berkeleyside added raw body-camera footage to this story shortly after publication, as well as some details from the video footage. More reporting is forthcoming.
* Berkeleyside realized after publication that, because of the age restriction setting, only YouTube users who log in to YouTube were able to view the BPD compilation video initially. Berkeleyside asked BPD to remove that setting to ensure the footage was more accessible. BPD updated the YouTube settings in response to the Berkeleyside request.