HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A police chief is responding after a suspect's mom said Officer Spencer Bristol had 'no business' crossing the interstate to chase her son.
In December, Hendersonville Police Officer Spencer Bristol was hit and killed running across I-65 to chase teen suspect Emani Martin. Martin's mom, Aleshia Rucker, criticized the officer's decision.
Hendersonville Police Chief Mickey Miller said the officer died protecting his community, and he stands behind the choices that were made that day.
"I do not agree with what she said at all. I think it’s pretty easy if you’re chased by the police, or they try to pull you over, you stop. You comply," Miller said, "That’s a decision every officer has to make depending on what their vision is at the time. I’m pretty sure that Officer Bristol felt like when the two lanes stopped, I don’t think he could see the third lane, and he felt like nothing was there. We chase people on foot every day. People run from the police, and they should not run from the police."
The Fraternal Order of Police issued a statement:
"I believe the FOP was concerned that this lady," Miller said. "I know she’s taking up for her son, but that she was given this opportunity to express these things, you know the fact of the matter is, there are bad people in this world, and it’s our job to catch them, and that’s what we try to do. We try to keep any bad element from coming in to Hendersonville."
Miller said their pursuit policy guidelines were followed, and a tire blew on the suspect's vehicle near I-65 and Vietnam Veterans Boulevard before the chase became dangerous. If it would have proceeded, he said they would have called it off.
"The officer has the authority to terminate on his own," Miller said, "or the supervisor may terminate it for them, and we do terminate quite a few pursuits."
In Davidson County, Emani Martin is charged with reckless homicide in the death of Officer Bristol. In Sumner County, he's facing reckless endangerment and fleeing charges.
Chief Miller said getting Martin off the streets made Hendersonville safer, and an officer paid the ultimate sacrifice to make that happen.
"Our job is to protect the people in our city,” Miller said.