Disturbing body cam footage released by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is putting a veteran police officer in a shocking light for his response to the Mandalay Bay massacre, which left 58 people dead and injured hundreds more last October.
According to Fox News, officer Cordell Hendrex was already in the high-rise hotel with a trainee. They were responding to a minor call when they got word of an active shooter across the street at the Route 91 Music Festival.
Hendrex started to move that direction but got word that the shooter was actually in the hotel, firing from the 31st floor, according to an official police report written by Hendrex and obtained by FOX 5 News.
The trainee with Hendrex turned on her body cam and headed up to that floor with her senior officer and three hotel guards. They can be seen on video walking down the hallway with guns drawn as they search for the shooter.
“Holy [expletive]. Holy [expletive]” Hendrex can be heard exclaiming as gunfire breaks out nearby. “That’s rapid fire.”
The gunman, identified by police as Stephen Paddock, was killing concert-goers from his hotel room perch in the floor above.
“Hang on! Stop, stop, stop,” Hendrex orders the armor-less hotel guards as they move toward the source of the gunfire.
“Automatic fire coming from one floor above us,” he reports into his radio before telling everyone with him, “Back up, back up.”
The five armed officers and guards then hold their position, crouched behind cover for a few minutes, doing nothing until they finally start to move forward slowly. The video ends before a SWAT team arrives to approach Paddock’s room and eventually break in — long after he had stopped shooting.
“I know I hesitated and remember being terrified with fear,” Hendrex admitted in his report. “And I think that I froze right there in the middle of the hall — for how long I can’t say.”
He admitted hesitating again and being focused on stopping the shooter if he made a run for it rather than barging in on him because he and those with him were only armed with handguns and had just two armored vests among them. He admits to getting very close to the shooter’s room but says he used bad tactics in not doing anything more.
“I could feel my mouth was extremely dry...I also felt myself starting to get tunnel vision and I can remember concentrating on tactical breathing to calm myself,” Hendrex wrote.
The actions of Hendrex and everyone else involved in the police response are still under investigation. Some law enforcement experts say they can understand Hendrex’ actions because not every officer is prepared to confront a mass murderer head-on.
Former New York City police officer and active criminal justice instructor Eugene O'Donnell told the Associated Press, "Police officers are civilians with guns. The notion that they can spring into action and take on a mass murderer who is running up the body count is probably something you can't ask."