VERNON (KFDX/KJTL) — A jury in Vernon finds a Wichita Falls man guilty for shooting a Vernon police officer in a shootout in April 2019.
A police weapon camera company said one of the most important pieces of evidence was the video from one of those cameras.
In fact, they said this is the first officer-involved shooting ever captured on one of these gun cameras.
Walter Orellana, 24, was found guilty Thursday morning after about 30 minutes deliberation and sentenced to 40 years in prison.
In November 2018, Vernon police officers were one of the first in the nation to install new cameras on their weapons so a view from the officer’s vantage point could be used to protect his liability, and also be used in the courtroom.
For the first time anywhere, the company selling the cameras said video from one of those weapon cams has been used in a trial. The gun cams offer a whole new view compared to the body cams and dash cams.
“Those items weren’t designed for use with the officer with a firearm drawn, so it gives the officers another tool to be able to obtain that evidence,” General Council Viridian weapons tech Matthew Plowman said.
The year after the cameras were installed, an officer’s camera captured a shooting between Orellana, who was wanted on warrants and officer TJ Session. Orellana was armed with a sawed-off shotgun. That video helped convict Orellana.
This wasn’t the first time Vernon Police Department had caught video of an incident with a weapon cam in another trial video of a man who tried to run over an officer was admitted.
“The footage had a big impact on the jury,” 46th judicial District Attorney Staley Heatly said. “They asked to see the video more than once, and when they had it in the jury room, they reviewed it several times.”
Now that Vernon PD has this technology that led to the verdict and punishment of Orellana for shooting an officer, Plowman said he believes more and more police departments around the country will follow suit.
Matthew plowman-general council viridian weapon technology
“I think more and more as the word spreads on this, it’s really a solution for police departments,” Plowman said. “It really is essential if they have body cams or not this is an additional tool to body cameras.”
Orellana was shot eight times during the gun battle, and Cpl. Session suffered 41 shotgun pellet wounds and still has 36 pellets in his shoulder.
Orellana will have to serve 20 years before being eligible for parole and has previous charges for the sexual assault of a child.
Feb. 13, 2020, 3:45 p.m.: Walter Orellana has been sentenced to 40 years in prison after being found guilty of using deadly force against a Vernon police officer.
Orellana will have to serve a minimum of 20 years the 40-year sentence before becoming eligible for parole.
UPDATE: Feb. 13, 2020, 1:25 p.m.
Walter Orellana has been found guilty of deadly force against a police officer Thursday.
WILBARGER (KFDX/KJTL) — A jury in Vernon is deliberating the verdict in a case believed to be the first use of new weapon-mounted camera technology in an officer-involved shooting in the world.
The shooting between suspect Walter Orellana, 24, and Vernon officer T.J. Session last April was recorded on one of Vernon PD’s new weapon-mounted cameras purchased from Veridian.
The video was shown to the jury Wednesday.
Both Session and Orellana were wounded in the exchange of gunfire on Mansard St.
Officers were trying to serve felony warrants and they said Orellana fled and began firing on officers.
He was shot and taken to Fort Worth treatment. Session was shot and recovered
Orellana, who is from Honduras is charged with deadly force against a police officer.
In 2016 he was arrested for continuous sexual abuse of a child in Wichita County.
A man Vernon police said was wounded in a shootout with officers last month is out of the hospital and is booked into the Wichita County jail.
He now has three indictments alleging sexual abuse of a child and high bonds that may keep him in jail.
Walter Orellana, 23, had sealed indictments alleging continuous sexual abuse of a child, indecency with a child and aggravated sexual assault of a child.
His bonds total $700,00. Orellana had been arrested in January of 2016 on a charge of sexual assault of a child, with a $500,000 bond.
Then, on April 28, Vernon police said officers were attempting to serve felony warrants at a home in the 15000 of Mansard st.
When officers arrived, they said Orellana tried to flee and opened fire on them.
Orellana was shot by officers, and one officer, Corporal T.J. Session, was shot during the exchange and is still recovering at last report.
Orellana’s 2016 arrest was for allegedly assaulting a girl over a two year period when she was 8 and 9.
That girl’s family said they allowed Orellana to stay with them when he came here from Honduras.