The Athens-Clarke County Police Department released the names of the people involved in the July 1 shooting on Macon Highway near the River Club apartment complex at a July 2 press conference.
The man who was shot and killed by police was identified as Aaron Hong, a 23-year-old man and Athens resident. The ACCPD officers involved were Senior Police Officer David Harrison and Officer Charles Bidinger.
Both officers were placed on administrative leave after the incident, in accordance with ACCPD policy. The incident is now being investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Also presented was the body camera footage from the perspective of both officers.
Content warning: these videos contain graphic content.
The footage shows that the officers arrived at the complex to find Hong with a knife, who yelled at the officers to “do it” while they repeatedly told him to put the knife down. As Hong advanced, the officers continued to back up on foot in the River Club driveway, eventually reaching the entrance to the complex on Macon Highway.
Hong then charged at Harrison, who fired seven shots at Hong. Hong fell to the ground before standing up again and yelling “shoot me.”
Hong charged Harrison again, grabbing his shoulders and appearing to reach for the officer’s gun — Harrison yelled “he’s going for my gun.” At this point, Bidinger fired four more shots at Hong, who fell to the ground and did not get back up.
Bidinger has been with ACCPD for less than a year, and has been involved in two shootings, the first occurring in March when a man charged officers with what was later revealed to be an airsoft gun. Harrison has been with ACCPD for seven years.
“No one wants to take the life of an individual … [Bidinger is] concerned and upset that it happened twice in such a short time period, but I think you saw what he was confronted with,” said ACCPD Chief Cleveland Spruill, who paused the video at various moments to describe what would happen next.
Spruill said Bidinger had started to reach for his taser after the first shots were fired, but did not have a chance to use it before Hong started struggling with Harrison and reaching for the weapon.
“The body-worn camera video evidence that I have seen and I that I’ve shared with you today, suggests that the officers reasonably feared for their lives and for their safety, and used deadly force to defend themselves,” Spruill said after showing the footage.
Spruill also expressed condolences for the family and friends of Hong, who was pronounced dead at the scene.
The officers had responded to the incident around 12:30 on July 1 after receiving reports of a man who was acting erratically with a knife at the complex. Spruill said Hong was already bleeding when officers arrived, but did not provide any other details about what may have led to the incident.
Clarification: A previous version of this article stated that the shooting occurred at the River Club apartment complex, but the shooting occurred on Macon Highway outside of the complex.