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Police: body camera footage of police involved shooting "chilling"

Police shoot, kill suspect holding 1 and 4 y/o
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Posted at 12:10 PM, Mar 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-28 17:44:50-04

“I want you to be calm. I want you to be relaxed. I want you to walk in and kill this guy.”

That is what a sergeant on the Baltimore Police Department SWAT team told SWAT Officer Zachary Wein Friday morning as they responded to the hostage/barricade situation on Fulton Avenue in West Baltimore.

Seconds later, Reno Owens was dead.

The one and four year olds on Owens' lap were rescued, the knife which Owens at times was holding to their throats was still in his lifeless hand.

"When that shot was fired, he had to be stopped,” said Baltimore Police Chief T.J. Smith, “You guys watched the entire video to the end and you see at the very end of the video, the knife is removed out of the grasp of the suspect's hand. Again these kids were never out of arms reach of the suspect the entire time."

That entire time just as important as the final seconds police say.

It all started early Friday morning and for 45 minutes, the first responding police officers stood outside the room where Owens was holding the children hostage and tried to negotiate.

In the video officers were pleading with Owens over the screams of the two children crying for their mother and father.

“Drop the knife,” police said, “This is unnecessary.”

Owens, a homeless relative of the family, ignored them.

Agitated, he screamed to the girl's mother saying, “Your daughter is gone cuz.”

At one point Owens sang rock-a-bye baby in what could be described as a sadistic tone and telling the children there wasn't going to be a tomorrow.

Owens simply wasn't leaving police with another option they said.

RELATED: Why Baltimore Police didn't publicly release body cam footage in officer-involved shooting

"It is not always easy to watch something like that,” Commissioner Kevin Davis said, “It is not easy to watch a grown man intentionally put a knife to a four year old and a one year old. It is not easy to watch on video a police officer discharge his fire arm to stop a threat like he did but we thought it was important for you all to see."

The commissioner called the footage chilling, the screams of the children and the shot to Owens head disturbing.

It’s part of the reason the department let journalists see the video for reporting purposes, but stopped short of releasing it to the media and the public.

It was a deliberate decision police say to balance transparency and decency.

"We decided to show it to a group of journalists, professionals and allow you to describe it and the alternative is unacceptable to me. I am not going to make a decision that will further traumatize a family or a four year old and a one year old," Davis said.

This is the third police-involved shooting caught on body worn camera footage since the program was initiated.

RELATED: Man shot, killed by police after threatening two children with knife

RELATED: Third Baltimore police involved shooting caught on body cam