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Witnesses Dispute Claim That Shooting Was Self Defense

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Tim Alumbaugh with his daughter Tim Alumbaugh with his daughter
Ann and John Johnson were trying to sleep at the truck stop. They witnessed an altercation between Alumbaugh and Robert Mangrum. Ann and John Johnson were trying to sleep at the truck stop. They witnessed an altercation between Alumbaugh and Robert Mangrum.
Security guard Robert Mangrum, age 23, told police he shot Alumbaugh in self defense. Security guard Robert Mangrum, age 23, told police he shot Alumbaugh in self defense.
The Johnson's truck was parked next to Alumbaugh's car during the altercation, but police did not talk to the couple - even though they had made the 911 call. The Johnson's truck was parked next to Alumbaugh's car during the altercation, but police did not talk to the couple - even though they had made the 911 call.

A NewsChannel 5 Investigates exclusive story has raised questions about a police murder investigation.

We first told you about a security guard shooting that police ruled self defense, but it turns out detectives did not interview key witnesses.

It was after 2 a.m. on a June morning two years ago. A truck driver and his wife frantically called 911.

Ann and John Johnson were trying to sleep at the Pilot Truck stop on Trinity Lane. They were awakened by a security guard yelling at 28-year-old Tim Alumbaugh.

"I called 911 and I told them there was an officer back there with a gun drawn on a kid, and there was a lot of cussing and a lot of yelling going on," Ann Johnson said.

"The yelling never stopped, the cussing and that ‘I'm going to kill you.  I'm going to blow your brains out,'" she said.

The next thing they know, they heard a shot and Tim Alumbaugh was dead.

"That was a senseless killing, that's all that was," said John Johnson.

"A security guard on a power trip. I don't know," Ann speculated.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates interviewed the Johnsons. Investigators with the Metro Nashville Police Department did not. They wrapped up their initial investigation, concluding that the security guard acted in self defense.

Reporter Ben Hall asked John Johnson, "From your point of view is there any way this could have been self defense?"

"No," he replied. "I can't see where he felt threatened if he has a gun to the back of the man's head."

Police photos show the Johnsons' truck was parked right beside Tim's car. The couple had a clear view of what happened from their cab. Police actually tied crime scene tape to the truck.

"He didn't ask ‘Did we see anything,' or ‘were we the ones that made the 911 call,'" John Johnson said.

Renae Rosson always doubted the police investigation into her son's death.

"The tape is tied to their vehicle, but you don't speak to those very people? My son was murdered. He was killed. An unarmed man was killed," she said.

Police were quick to believe the security guard's story. 

Robert Mangrum age 23, discovered Tim and his girlfriend having sex in their car at the back of the parking lot.

Mangrum told police Tim attacked him.

In taped deposition Mangrum tells a story dramatically different story from the truck drivers.

Detectives asked, "Was he choking you?"

"Yes," Mangrum replied.  "He's continuing to strike me and I look down to see my holster and I was like, oh, I feel like he's going to go for it cause I couldn't get him off me."

John Johnson saw differently.

"The guy was compliant. The guy was on the ground hands behind his head. What else did he need to do?" he asked.

There are other discrepancies in the story. The Johnsons estimated the fight lasted around 45 minutes. Mangrum told police it was just a few minutes.

In her initial statement to police, Tim's girlfriend, Lori McDunn, backs up the security guard's story, saying the whole thing lasted just a few minutes. 

Months later she changed her story and said the fight lasted 45 minutes. She also said the security guard was the aggressor. She has since changed her story again.

Police said the Johnsons bear some responsibility for not volunteering information.

"Hindsight being 20/20 their truck door should have been banged on," Metro Police spokesman Don Aaron said. "Hindsight being 20/20 they should have come out of that sleeper and told police what they saw."

Metro police said when initial statements from the security guard and Tim's girlfriend matched; it led them to conclude it was self defense. 

Renea Rosson believes police were too close to the security guard.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates discovered the security guard Robert Mangrum had just applied to be a Metro police officer.  On the night of the shooting instead of calling 911, his first call was to a police officer's personal cell phone.

Metro Police spokesman Don Aaron said, "There was no relationship between Mangrum and the police department. He was an applicant for the police department. Hundreds of people have applied."

He added many police officers give out there cell phone numbers to people in crime hotspots.

Tim's mother believes the Johnsons have the most credible version of what happened that night. 

Rosson wants a jury to decide the facts of the case.

"Give my son's voice a chance. Let the public decide," she said.

Two years after the shooting Rosson is still looking for justice.

"Sometimes you have a tendency to give up. That was not an option for me. Giving up was not an option," she said.

Police have re-opened the case. They said the Johnsons testimony is not the only thing they will use to determine what happened that night. Investigators are also reviewing all the medical and forensic evidence.

Police said their second investigation is almost finished. Investigators will present their information to the District Attorney, and he will decide whether it warrants criminal charges against Mangrum.

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