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Police on Tuesday released body camera videos and audio related to the death of a former UCLA basketball player, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a Sherman Oaks home after exchanging gunfire with police last month.
Tyler Honeycutt was initially found unresponsive around 3:45 a.m., July 7, nearly 11 hours after his mother called 911 expressing concern about her son’s wellbeing, according to Los Angeles Police Department Cmdr. Alan Hamilton.
He was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics several hours after shooting at police, who returned fire, officials said.
The incident began the previous day around 5 p.m. when Honeycutt’s mother called 911, telling the dispatcher she believed the 27-year-old was possibly under the influence of drugs. She said her son hadn’t slept or eaten in days, and had been throwing things at neighbors.
“I need somebody quickly. The police, an ambulance, whatever. My son’s having a psychotic break. He has guns in the house so I’m really worried,” the mother said, according to 911 audio released by police Tuesday.
Honeycutt, she continued, indicated he thought his mother was conspiring against him; she previously tried to call for help, but when she dialed 911, the son knocked the phone out of her hand, according to the recording.
The mother told the dispatcher Honeycutt didn’t have a diagnosed mental illness, but he was hallucinating. He possibly smoked a joint in the house earlier, she indicated.
She feared for her son’s safety, as there were two weapons in the home, a shotgun and a pistol, according to the mother.
“You need to hurry because I’m afraid he’s going to pull a gun out on himself,” she told the dispatcher.
A short time later, officers responded and met the mother outside the home, located in the 4700 block of Tyrone Avenue.
Body camera video showed the woman again expressing concern to police, telling them that Honeycutt was in his bedroom with a gun in one hand; in his other hand, he was holding onto the collar of the family’s guard dog, she said.
Her son, the woman added, had recently come back to Southern California after spending time overseas, where for months he was apparently huffing nitrous oxide to get high.
“He’s a professional basketball player that just came back from overseas and he was sucking laughing gas for six months overseas, and I think it scrambled his brain,” she told the officer, according to the footage.
The video picks up with police outside the residence, where they attempted to communicate with Honeycutt through voice commands and tried to get him to out of the home.
Honeycutt wouldn’t come outside, however, and an officer called for backup amid the possibility that he had barricaded himself inside the residence, according to LAPD.
At various points, they could see him through a window and he was apparently walking around the home with a gun, police said.
Later, they spoke with him over a cellphone in another effort to coax him outside, telling him he wasn’t in trouble and they just wanted to talk to him.
“I’m just trying to resolve this as peacefully as possible,” the officer pleaded.
Honeycutt hung up on the officer and then, a short time later, went to the window where he pointed the gun at police and opened fire, Hamilton said.
The bullet shattered a glass window struck a wall immediately to the officer’s right, according to the commander. The officer then returned fire.
Body camera videos from different angles captured the exchange of the gunfire and subsequent police response. An officer can be heard radioing for backup, saying they needed help.
About 15 minutes after that, a SWAT team arrived at the scene. For several hours, they attempted to establish communication with Honeycutt before entering the home.
By the time they found Honeycutt, he was unresponsive.
A weapon was recovered at the scene, as well as expended casings, according to Hamilton and photos from the scene.
The Los Angeles County coroner’s office listed the cause of death as a gunshot wound to the head. His death was ruled a suicide.
Honeycutt had no prior criminal record or history of mental illness, according to LAPD.
A native of Los Angeles, Honeycutt attended Sylmar High School. He went on to attend UCLA, where he played for two seasons before declaring for the NBA draft in 2011.
Honeycutt played for the Sacramento Kings, which drafted him in the second round. He had stints there and with the Houston Rockets before he went abroad to continue his professional basketball career.