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Video Shows Violent Encounters Faced By Officers

Video Shows Violent Encounters Faced By Officers
Posted at 12:00 PM, Jun 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-07 13:00:52-04

Deputy James Gavagan will never forget his encounter with a murder suspect.

"I was doing over 85 miles an hour trying to catch up with him," Gavagan remembered.

Gavagan's dashcam video recorded the high speed chase last April.

It involved Shane Townsley -- a fugitive from Indiana.

Townsley came to Overton County where he had family.

When Townsley finally pulled over, Gavagan thought he might try and run.

But in the blink of eye, Townsley pulled out an assault riffle and opened fire.

"A round went through the windshield. Glass fragments got into my forehead," Gavagan said.

He ducked under the dashboard as Townsley fired over and over.

"I just got to the point that I've got to do something or I'm going to die here," Gavagan said.

When there was a break in the shooting, Gavagan fired back.

"I popped up, stuck the gun out the window and started returning fire which chased him back to his car," Gavagan said.

He believes those shots saved his life.

None hit Townsley, but they made him drive off.

Sheriff John Garrett has watched the video many times.

"He's very, very fortunate to be alive," Sheriff Garrett said.

He pointed out how Townsley's car swayed back and forth as he pulled over.

"I believe the driver was actually getting his firearms ready," Garrett said.

Officers knew Townsley might be armed, but they didn't expect an AK-47 style assault riffle.

"It happened so fast it's a holy cow moment," Garrett said.

But he said those kinds of moments are far too common even in rural areas like Overton County.

Two months after the Townsley shooting, Garrett saw another situation in which his deputies were nearly shot.

Deputies wearing body cameras responded to a domestic dispute.

The caller said her husband ran to their bedroom and fired one shot.

"With the information they have they're thinking that there is possibly a gentleman in there who has shot himself that may need medical treatment," Garrett said.

The deputies went inside the house and announced themselves over and over.

But as they approached the bedroom, a gun poked through the door and opened fire.

Both officers shoot back -- 30 rounds were fired in seconds.

But incredibly no one was hit.

"It was not meant for someone to get hurt that night because that was the perfect recipe for someone to get injured," Garrett said.

Minutes later, officers arrested the man inside his bedroom with no further problems.

Things ended differently for Shane Townsley.

Sky5 video shows officers around a truck they say Townsley stole and drove into a ditch.

They say he then shot himself.

Deputy Gavagan knows how close he came to dying.

The video is a reminder of how dangerous their job is.