HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. – In a press conference Tuesday, officials with the TBI and District Attorney, Ray Whitley, said the officer involved in a shooting on Vietnam Vets Boulevard last week was “completely justified.”
Hendersonville Police dash cameras show a tense 40 minutes last Tuesday night.
The video showed a blurry figure of a man balancing on the concrete wall of the Indian Lake Bridge over Vietnam Veterans Blvd in Sumner County.
“Mr. Dodd said that he had a gun in his back pocket. Eventually he produced the gun,” said Sumner Co. District Attorney General Ray Whitley.
The man balancing on the wall was 22-year-old Steven Dodd. He was moving the gun around, switching hands while he smokes several cigarettes.
Police said three officers remained behind the patrol car while one left cover to speak face to face.
“Steven please put the gun down,” you could hear him saying in the video.
Dodd’s father said his son had just lost his job. He said he was upset and not acting like himself when he left the house Tuesday night.
“From time to time he would take the gun and he would put it to his head,” Whitley said in the press conference a week later. “The officers of course were saying ‘don't do it, don't do it.’”
At one point, it looked like Dodd was going to step back over the barrier at the negotiator's request, but then he hesitates and points the gun right at the negotiator.
That was when one of the other officers fired, hitting Dodd in the leg. He fell to the highway below, suffering internal and head injuries and later died at the hospital.
After a week on administrative leave, the shooting officer MPO Hunter Raymond was cleared of any wrong doing.
“It was an unavoidable situation,” Whitley said. “It was a tragic situation but this department did everything they should do.”
The investigation brought a jarring fact to light: Dodd's gun was a fake. It was a pellet gun, made to look like the real thing.
“Our thoughts and prayers go to Steven’s family,” Hendersonville Police Chief Mickey Miller said. “I can only imagine what they’re going through.”
The case was closed, but a wound was left open after officers were forced into a decision they thought was life or death.
Steven's father said he apologized to the officers that his son got them involved with what seems to be a plan for suicide at the hands of an officer.