UPDATE: DA find officers' use of deadly force justified in Eagle - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: DA find officers' use of deadly force justified in Eagle shooting

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

UPDATE: Intense moments were caught on police dash cam video minutes before Javario Eagle, 24, was fatally shot by Chattanooga Police in December 2015.

"It's not just a video. I know that's what your viewers like to see. But the reality is, any situation is way more complicated than any video or combination of videos will ever reveal," said Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher.

Fletcher says the officers who fired were protecting a small child and a community.

The Hamilton County District Attorney's office released the videos detailing Eagle's 11-minute encounter with police.

An officer was dispatched to the Emma Wheeler Homes after Eagle called 911. The officer first spoke to Eagle at 11:55 a.m.

"They were not agitated. They were not instigating any sort of interaction. They left weapons holstered. They communicated with the person," Fletcher said.

The responding officer called for backup after seeing Eagle with a small child and holding a pistol in his hand.

As more officers arrived on scene, Eagle went inside the home and fired a shot. When he walked outside, officers saw him try to fire again.

For the next five minutes, Eagle ignored police commands. In the video, officers instructed Eagle to "put the gun down" at least 40 times.

Police believed Eagle's young daughter was in direct danger. As the situation escalated, the video shows an officer scoop up the young girl and carry her out of harm's way.

"(That officer) has told me that he knew he was likely going to get shot, but that child's life was more important than his own," Fletcher said.

Seconds later, at 12:06 p.m., police fired shots at Eagle.

"Nobody wants to have to take anybody's life. My officers do not wake up anticipating or expecting to have to be faced with deadly threat and respond with deadly force. However, they rescued a young child who was in imminent threat from a violent character," said Fletcher.

Fletcher says he's proud of the way his officers handled the situation, and says the video backed up officer and witness accounts. The police chief is still reviewing the incident, and plans to use it for learning opportunities in future department training.


PREVIOUS STORY: New details surfaced Wednesday in a deadly shooting involving several Chattanooga Police officers and a man holding his young daughter. District Attorney General Neal Pinkston will not file charges against the six CPD officers who shot 24-year-old Javario Eagle.

Hamilton County District Attorney Neal Pinkston says after reviewing all the evidence in the case, it is clear the officers were legally justified in using deadly force to protect themselves and Eagle's daughter, who was in harm's way.

Javario Eagle called 911 on December 12. He seemed agitated and was not making rational statements. When the first officer got on scene, Eagle had a gun in his hand.
 
"In the initial interaction with Mr. Eagle and he's asked to 'put the gun down, put the gun down,' Mr. Eagle goes back into the residence with his daughter and discharges the firearm," says District Attorney General Neal Pinkston.

The shot goes through the roof. Moments later, he appears outside again. It sounds as if Eagle tries to fire his gun again but it is jammed.
 
"He comes out with a samurai sword and a gun," says Pinkston.

Eagle reappears with his daughter.

Officers demanded more than 40 times he put down the weapons over a time span of 10 minutes.

Dash cam captures the moment an officer is able to coax Eagle's daughter away. As that happens, Eagle moves toward the officer holding the girl. Officers warn him one more time.

"Put the gun down! Put the gun down! Put it down," they shout on dash camera video.

A bullet grazes Eagle's head and he falls to the ground. As officers approached, Eagle grabbed his gun and pointed it at officers. Officers open fire, hitting Eagle seven times.

"Obviously that posed a seriously bodily threat to not only the officers but the young girl as well as any of the other residents out there," says Pinkston.

Eagle's family members were at the DA's office Wednesday to request a sit down meeting with him to discuss his decision.
 
"This is a miscarriage of justice that this young black man was murdered with impunity," says Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson.

Henderson, with Concerned Citizens for Justice, spoke on behalf of the family. She argues police only agitated Eagle and made the situation more tense.
 
"What we saw was police, with AR-15s, pointed at a 4 year old. That's what we saw," she says.

She also argues officers never had Eagle's well-being in mind.
     
"The first thing that they do is get nervous about their own well-being and shoot this man," says Woodard Henderson.

But that is not what Pinkston says the evidence shows.
 
"It shows the harm that officers face on a daily basis and in this case a child faced at the hands of her own father," says Pinkston.

Multiple dash cameras were rolling when the shooting happened.

No Chattanooga officers were wearing body cameras but Housing Authority officers were, giving a glimpse into the moments after.
 
Eagle's family is sitting down with Pinkston Thursday morning.

Chief Fletcher is out of town and says he has not had a chance to review the Sheriff's Office case file. He plans to make a statement Thursday.
 


PREVIOUS STORY: District Attorney General Neal Pinkston will not file charges against the six CPD officers involved in the December 12, 2015, fatal shooting of Javario Eagle. 
The investigation conducted by the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office found use of deadly force by Chattanooga police officers:

  • Lorin Johnston
  • Allen Griffith
  • Tim McFarland
  • Mitchell Moss
  • Christopher Palmer
  • Jacques Weary

Pinkston says that deadly force was justified under T.C.A. 39-11-620 and T.C.A. 40-7-108 because Eagle refused repeated commands to surrender to uniformed officers and pointed a pistol at two officers and his young daughter.

READ MORE | District Attorney's report and ruling

His review is intended to determine whether Chattanooga Police officers performed their duties in a legally justified manner. It does not address compliance with department policies or any issues related to civil liability. 

CPD Chief Fred Fletcher is out of town and is expected to review the case upon his return, according to the department's spokesman.


PREVIOUS STORY: The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office has finished their investigation of the Chattanooga Police Department officer-involved shooting of Javario Eagle on December 12, 2015. 

Eagle was fatally shot eight times by Chattanooga police officers during an armed standoff.

The investigation report was forwarded to District Attorney General Neal Pinkston's office Wednesday. Chief Fred Fletcher will receive a copy of the investigation report following General Pinkston's review, according to CPD spokesperson, Kyle Miller. Miller also said in an email to Channel 3, once CPD receives the report it will be turned over to their Internal Affairs who will conduct and Administrative Review of the case. 

Pinkston's office will begin their review of the case, which is expected to be completed in 2-3 weeks. Chief Fletcher will be able to discuss the case once the independent review is finished and CPD has reviewed the case. 


PREVIOUS STORY: Autopsy results show the man shot and killed by Chattanooga police last month had marijuana in his system when he was shot eight times.

According to an autopsy report, released by the Hamilton County Medical Examiner, Javario Eagle died of multiple gunshot wounds. Eagle was shot in the lower leg, in both hips, his arm, chest, shoulder and abdomen. A bullet also grazed his head.

The autopsy, completed only December 15, 2015, three days after his death, shows Eagle had marijuana in his system. His system was clear of any other drugs in his system.

Police say officers found Eagle armed and with a child on December 12. Eagle entered and exited a home multiple times, refusing to follow officers’ directions. They say that at one point, he exited holding the child and brandishing a knife and firearm.

The case is being investigated by the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office and the Hamilton County District Attorney's Office.

The officers involved have returned to work.

“As per CPD policy, all officers involved were placed on mandatory administrative leave for seven days and have since returned to active duty,” said Kyle Miller, spokesperson for the Chattanooga Police Department. 

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