TBI investigating after MNPD officer shoots robbery suspect

Posted at 4:33 PM, Jan 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-28 09:27:07-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents responded to the scene of a shooting in which a Metro Nashville Police officer shot a robbery suspect.

MNPD spokesman Don Aaron said Officer Wesley McClelland shot Lamon Witherspoon, at an Exxon market on 2200 block of Brick Church Pike Wednesday just before 3 p.m.

wesley mclelland
Officer Wesley McClelland

Witherspoon was wanted on charges of aggravated assault and aggravated robbery for allegedly robbing a Donelson Pike pizzeria on Jan. 24.

According to police, Witherspoon demanded money and made the pizzeria worker think he was armed with a gun when really all he had was a cell phone. He left the restaurant with the cash register.

lamon witherspoon
Surveillance photo of Lamon Witherspoon from pizzeria robbery.
Photo: MNPD

Officers continued their investigation into the robbery and connected Witherspoon to a stolen vehicle. Spokesman Aaron said officers then used a tracker on the vehicle, which had been installed by the lot that sold the vehicle, to locate Witherspoon at the Exxon market Wednesday.

Officers used their vehicles to block Witherspoon in, but he tried to get away. They then blocked him in even further, but police say he refused to get out of the vehicle even after his passenger complied with demands and got out. Aaron said officers broke out the windows of the vehicle to try to get him out, but he still refused. It wasn't until one of the officers got in the back seat, trying to get him to comply, that the officer spotted a gun, according to Aaron.

That officer alerted the others to the weapon. Officer McClelland was on the passenger side of the vehicle and also spotted the gun. Aaron said McClelland saw Witherspoon turning toward him with the gun and that "it was McClelland's belief that as Witherspoon was turning towards him with the gun and he was going to be shot."

Officer McClelland fired, hitting Witherspoon who suffered injuries to his head and hip. He was taken to the hospital for treatment.

This is not the first time McClelland has shot a suspect. In 2016, he shot and killed Sandy Joe Duke of Springfield who was wanted for a home invasion in Robertson County. Duke was tracked to a Mexican restaurant on Dickerson Pike in Nashville. He was running from officers when he turned toward McClelland with a gun, and that when the officer fired at Duke, killing him.

"McClelland was involved in a foot chase of Duke who was a wanted person. Duke turned toward officer with his gun. Officer McClelland fired upon Duke. Case was thoroughly reviewed and shooting of Duke was deemed justified," said Aaron.

Wednesday's shooting is being investigated by the TBI.