Interrogation video offers insight into a murder investigation
It is a fascinating look into a murder investigation.
A video of a police interrogation of Devontay Hackett has been made public.
The 21-year-old is on trial for second degree murder in the 2014 stabbing death of Brandon Volpi outside an after-prom party at a downtown Ottawa hotel.
Part of that interrogation was shown to jurors last week.
The video shows a then 18-year-old Devontay Hackett, dressed in jeans and a black t-shirt, being led into a small interrogation room. He is told there are video cameras and microphones in the room before being left alone on a chair in the corner. He tucks his arms inside his t-shirt suggesting the room is cold.
After about two and a half minutes, Ottawa Police Detective Chris Benson enters the room with pieces of pizza and drinks for the two of them. He sits across from Hackett, reminds him of his rights, and then does most of the talking for about twenty minutes.
First Benson relates a story of his own son getting into a fight, and the value of hearing both sides of a story.
Then he turns to the task at hand, explaining how a police investigation involves assembling “pieces of a pie” and that the last remaining piece in this case is for Hackett to fill in. “I've reviewed the evidence," says Benson. "The case is strong."
He also tells Hackett that the best course of action is to tell the truth. “You’re not a dumb guy,” says Benson. “You were going places.”
“I’m supposed to be,” answers Hackett, talking about his plans to go to college with the goal of starting his own business.
After more than half an hour, Detective Benson finally gets to crux of the case. “I already know what happened,” he tells Hackett. “Essentially I want to know why.”
“I don’t know what you mean,” Hackett responds.
“You don’t know what I mean?” asks Benson. “So you’re not responsible for a stabbing? You didn’t stab Brandon Volpi?”
“Who is that?” replies Hackett.
Hackett eventually shakes his head no, but then explains that what he means is he’s not talking at all, that he wants to wait until his lawyer is present the next day. “That doesn’t happen,” replies Benson. “That’s in the movies.” Benson tells Hackett that lawyers are not allowed in the room during interrogations. “Because that makes them witnesses, and that makes them unable to represent you properly.”
Nevertheless, it becomes increasingly clear that Hackett’s strategy is to say nothing. He initially wouldn’t even say whether or not he was at the after party, until Detective Benson produces a photograph indicating he was there. “I’ll ask you questions that I may already have the answers to,” says Benson.
As the interrogation progresses, Hackett becomes increasingly silent. After an hour on the video, he tucks his arms back inside his t-shirt, leans his head against the wall and closes his eyes.
“You don’t need to pretend you’re sleeping,” says Benson.
“I’m not pretending. I’m trying to,” replies Hackett. “Because I haven’t slept.”
Hackett remains unresponsive. There is an edit in the video soon after, then Benson leaves the room. Hackett is led away moments later.
Devontay Hackett has pleaded not guilty to second degree murder in the stabbing death of Brandon Volpi. The trial continues.