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Houston-area sheriff’s deputies repeatedly shot at woman after mistaking her for an intruder in a friend’s home, video shows

<i>Harris County Sheriff's Office</i><br/>
Harris County Sheriff's Office

By Raja Razek and Elizabeth Wolfe, CNN

(CNN) — Sheriff’s deputies in Houston repeatedly shot at a woman after mistaking her for an intruder inside her friend’s apartment, body camera footage released over the weekend shows.

The woman, Eboni Pouncy, was shot five times during the February 3 confrontation and her attorney, Ben Crump, called for the release of the two deputies’ body camera footage. Authorities say Pouncy was holding a gun when they opened fire.

Following the release of the edited footage by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday, Crump said in a release that the video is “evidence of the unnecessary and excessive force used against her.”

“I’m traumatized. I’m heartbroken,” Pouncy told ABC News. “I feel stripped of my identity.”

It was a miracle Pouncy survived, Crump told CNN. “Over two dozen bullets (were fired) and she lived,” he said Tuesday. Pouncy was hit in the chest, abdomen, thigh, leg and foot, Crump said.

She will be OK, but she requires physical rehabilitation, Crump said.

Crump says client didn’t hear deputies announce themselves

On the night of the shooting, the sheriff’s deputies responded to an east Houston apartment complex, where a tenant called 911 to report someone was inside her apartment, according to a release from the sheriff’s office.

“At approximately 2:14 a.m., the first deputy arrived to the scene and cleared the apartment,” the release said. “There was no intruder located.”

A second deputy had arrived to assist, but before they left, a person living in a neighboring apartment “flagged the deputies down and reported that someone had broken into another nearby apartment.”

At the second apartment, the deputies noticed a front window screen had been removed, the glass was broken and the blinds were raised, the sheriff’s office said in a video statement when releasing the footage.

The footage shows a deputy knocking on the apartment door and announcing, “sheriff’s office.” Both deputies then move away from the door and stand next to the windows.

A deputy “saw a female approaching the door holding a firearm,” the sheriff’s office said in its release.

Crump said Pouncy didn’t hear the announcement and didn’t know law enforcement officers were at the door. She was shot as she moved to the door, intending to defend the property with a gun she was “within her rights to own,” Crump told CNN Tuesday.

Soon after, one deputy begins yelling at the person inside to “drop the” gun or weapon, then it appears one or both deputies open fire before the command is complete. They both shoot repeatedly, and at least one deputy continues firing after reloading.

After the deputies performed “life-saving efforts” on the woman they shot, she was taken to a local hospital, where she was in stable condition. according to the release.

“Deputies conducted a safety sweep and did not locate anyone else inside the apartment,” the release said. A handgun was found inside the apartment, which authorities believe is the one seen by the deputy before they began shooting, it added.

Investigators later discovered that Pouncy was “a guest of the apartment resident and that they had broken the window to get inside because they did not have a key with them,” the video statement said.

Earlier, the sheriff’s department said Pouncy was the apartment resident.

The two deputies have been placed on administrative leave and the sheriff’s department said it is conducting an internal investigation.

County district attorney’s office is investigating

The Harris County district attorney’s office is independently investigating the incident, which is standard when a deputy uses potentially deadly force, according to the department.

The shooting appears problematic, in part, because deputies opened fire before finishing their command that the person inside the apartment drop their weapon, CNN Chief Law Enforcement and Intelligence Analyst John Miller said.

“Before the command is over, they’ve already opened fire,” Miller said. “So, the subject inside, whether they’re a burglar or a resident – and remember, this is Texas, where a resident coming to the door with a gun is not unusual – there is no time between the command and opening fire.”

Another issue is “fire control,” Miller said, pointing to the fact the deputies fired repeatedly before reloading and continuing to fire.

“In general, police training is to ‘shoot to stop’ the threat,” Miller said. “Training also includes a pause in shooting to assess whether the threat has been neutralized and if additional fire is necessary.”

The deputies should be held accountable for “their impulsive actions,” Crump said in his Monday news release.

The sheriff’s department asked that anyone with information relevant to the shooting contact their office.

“The investigation into this incident is ongoing by the Sheriff’s Office Homicide Unit,” the release read. “All evidence gathered in the investigation will be given to the district attorney’s office for presentation to an independent grand jury.”

CNN’s Steve Almasy, Sabrina Shulman and Dakin Andone contributed to this report.

This story has been updated with additional information.

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