MIDWEST CITY — Police Friday released 911 tapes and video surveillance showing a tense standoff that ended when an officer killed a suspect holding a knife to the throat of a 2-year-old girl in a Walmart Market by shooting him in the head at point-blank range.
Chief Brandon Clabes on Friday hailed Capt. David Huff, a trained hostage negotiator who fired the shot, as a hero who likely saved the girl's life.
The video shows Sammie L. Wallace, 37, as he approached the store, grabbed a cart and circled it several times before picking the girl up out of a shopping cart and confronting her mother.
Huff and another police negotiator tried for about 30 minutes to talk Wallace into releasing the girl before the confrontation ended fatally. The girl was not harmed.
“They did everything possible,” Clabes said. “They thought they could talk him down.”
Clabes said Huff is on vacation and has declined to talk about the ordeal publicly. He has been cleared of any wrongdoing both by the Midwest City Police Department and Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater, who called his actions “heroic.”
Wallace entered the store at 7520 E Reno Ave. shortly after 3 p.m. June 17. On the video, he can be seen circling the store and passing Alicia Keating and her two daughters twice. Keating's 12-year-old daughter was standing with the cart while the 2-year-old girl sat in it.
Keating was next to the cart but was turned and looking at meat in the store's cooler when Wallace picked the toddler up out of the cart. He then handed his cellphone to Keating while holding a knife to the girl's throat and demanded she call a Dallas police officer Wallace once was acquainted with.
Keating declined Friday to talk about the incident.
The video does not include audio, but in 911 calls made during the confrontation, Keating can be heard in the background pleading with Wallace to release her daughter.
Terry Parker, a Midwest City pastor who was shopping at the store, positioned his shopping cart in a way that blocked Wallace from moving from the area.
Clabes credited Parker for his quick thinking, which put officers in a good position to deal with Wallace when they arrived.
Parker said Friday the events unfolded so quickly that he acted on instinct to restrict Wallace's movement.
“I'll be honest, I have no idea why,” Parker said. “I just tried to position myself in a way where if that guy wanted to come my way, he'd have to go through me and my cart.”
Midwest City police arrived quickly; the store is just a few hundred feet from police headquarters. Huff was one of the first officers who arrived, and he began talking with Wallace.
Clabes said Wallace was not making sense.
He talked of being monitored by former President George Bush and said he was the wealthiest man in the world. He also talked of the Illuminati, an 18th-century secret society popular with conspiracy theorists and mentioned in popular fiction.
Officers escorted Keating and her older daughter to the front of the store and locked the store down while the two officers negotiated with Wallace. At one point, officers gave Wallace a chair, and he sat down, still holding the girl and the knife.
As the negotiations broke down, Huff ducked just out of sight and checked his firearm to make sure there was a round in the chamber in case he needed to take a shot.
Moments later, Wallace began counting down from 60 by tens. Huff can be seen on the video squatting low as Wallace looks toward the other negotiator on his left. As the countdown reached zero, Huff walked to Wallace's side, raised his .40-caliber Glock pistol and fired once into his right temple.
The edited video released by police ends just before the shot is fired.
Clabes said Huff told him he thought Wallace was stabbing the girl the instant he took the shot.
In fact, she was unharmed and was quickly reunited with her mother and sister.
Wallace's family members told police he was diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic. He was released in 2011 from the Texas prison system after serving 11 years for convictions including drug possession, firearms charges and aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon.
Clabes said in that incident, Wallace fired a gun through a wall that hit but did not kill a child.