Video released of armed assault of Conroe police officer

Friday, May 12, 2017
Body cam video released in assault of officer
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Body cam video released in assault of a Conroe police officer.

CONROE, Texas (KTRK) -- Authorities want you to see body camera video showing the moment a Conroe police officer narrowly escaped death.

"I don't know. I don't know how he missed the Grace of God," said officer Greg Vradenburg.

He turned his body camera on moments before the shooting in January 2016 as he chased a suspect who fled during a traffic stop.

When Christopher Hatton fell, Vradenburg attempted to subdue him, he said. On the video, you can see Hatton's hands were underneath him and not visible to Vradenburg. Hatton pulled a handgun and opened fire over his shoulder, attempting to hit Vradenburg less than three feet away.

"I don't know how he missed me. I don't know if it went between my legs. Over my shoulder, I have no idea where it went," said Vradenburg.

Vradenburg had his taser drawn and hit Hatton with a charge, but it had no effect. Hatton ran again but was caught.

Vradenburg said he will never forget the look on Hatton's face when Hatton realized that somehow his shot missed him.

"He was just as surprised he missed as I was," said Vradenburg.

Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon said the video is proof that officers must make split-second decisions every day. While having video can be helpful in court -- and in this case helped secure a conviction against Hatton -- Ligon said it's just too easy for the general public to second guess the actions of an officer after the fact.

"Reserve your judgement. Reserve your judgment when it comes to officer-involved encounters," said Ligon.

Hatton was found guilty and sentenced to 99 years in prison.

"When they read 99 years, I collapsed," said mother Tammie Hatton.

She admitted her son is no saint, but insisted he never did anything violent before.

Last week, a Montgomery County jury gave another man, Ronald Cooper, a total of 80 years in prison for the intoxicated manslaughter of a family of four. The Sedlmeier family was killed in a wreck on Highway 105 in 2015.

Tammie Hatton wants to know why her son received a greater sentence.

"He got 80 years. My son didn't kill anybody and got 99. Tell me where that's fair," she said.

Ligon explained that intoxication manslaughter carries a lesser punishment, by law, up to 20 years per count. In Cooper's case, that was four counts which added up to 80 years.

He is working with legislators in Austin to try and change the current law to allow for special circumstances, like multiple deaths, to increase the potential punishment range for offenders.

Hatton's mother said her son has been diagnosed with cancer. She said doctors gave him only a few more years to live. She does not expect him to survive to see 30 years, at which he could become eligible for parole.

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