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Woman Fatally Shot By Officer In Gallatin

Posted: 10:13 AM, Apr 06, 2016
Updated: 2016-04-06 19:48:41-04
TBI Responds To Officer-Involved Shooting
TBI Responds To Officer-Involved Shooting
TBI Responds To Officer-Involved Shooting

A woman was shot and killed Wednesday morning after getting into an altercation with officers in Sumner County. 

Officials with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said Laronda Sweatt was fatally shot by a responding officer after she hit a deputy with a medieval ax. 

TBI officials said a Sumner County deputy, identified as Gary Pickard, was serving an eviction notice with housing authorities at Sweatt's home on Chaffin Court when she became combative.

Sweatt allegedly hit Pickard with the ax. He was then able to stumble to his cruiser to call for back-up. 

Three Gallatin Police officers arrived and reportedly got into another altercation with Sweatt where she allegedly threatened them with the same ax.

Authorities confirmed Sweatt was shot by Officer James Spray. A press release from Gallatin Police said Spray fired two shots at Sweatt, striking her with both. He has been placed on paid administrative leave, per protocol.

Spray has been with the Gallatin Police Department for three years, according to Chief Don Bandy.

While at the scene, authorities administered medical care on Sweatt at the scene. She was then taken to Sumner Regional Medical Center where she later died.

Throughout the afternoon, family members gathered in the hospital's parking lot, emotional as they realized what happened.

"It could have been different," Shanita Fitts said through tears. "It could have been different."

Fitts is Sweatt's cousin who claimed the 40-year-old suffered from a mental illness. While they admit she was violent, some family members said they wished officers did not use deadly force.

"It shouldn’t have happened that way," Sweatt's cousin, William Woods said. "It could have been avoided. That's what tasters are for."

Sweatt lived in the Chaffin Court home with her daughter, who was at the house during the incident. As TBI and other investigators continued to piece together what happened, neighbors stood by in shock.

"It's a really sad situation," Rachel Snell said. "Somebody’s kid watched them lay in the street and die."

Body cameras were active on officials. Authorities confirmed that video was now in the hands of TBI officials as they investigate.