Three Metro Police supervisors disciplined in deadly officer-involved shooting

Posted at 5:26 PM, Feb 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-11 18:27:21-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Three Metro Nashville Police supervisors were disciplined for what officials called "poor decision making and failure to carry out their leadership roles" during a deadly officer-involved shooting in October of 2018.

The suspect, 31-year-old Sershawn Martez Dillon, was believed to be involved in a shots fired call on Oct. 5, but the incident escalated when officers arrived, leading to the shooting injury of Officer Samuel Galluzzi.

Based on an investigation by the MNPD’s Office of Professional Accountability, it has been recommended that Lieutenant Viviyonne Lee, be demoted to police officer and receive a 20-day suspension. She was the North Precinct evening shift supervisor on the night of the incident.

It was also recommended that Sergeant Harold Wells, a North Precinct district supervisor, be demoted to police officer.

Lee and Wells have now been made aware of the investigation’s findings and have until later this month to accept the recommendations or request formal departmental disciplinary hearings.

Both have been on administrative assignment since the night of the shooting while this investigation was conducted. The third supervisor, Sergeant James Boone, has been recommended for a five-day suspension.

The Office of Professional Accountability investigation concluded that if the supervisors had used all of the information that was available to them on the night of October 5, the wounding of Galluzzi might have been avoided.

“This report finds no failure of policy or training, but rather a failure to use the training and policy knowledge these supervisors had,” Chief Steve Anderson said. “MNPD supervisors throughout the city are making correct decisions virtually every minute of the day in accordance with the continuous training they receive. Decision-making lapses and errors in a case like this, though extraordinarily rare, are very serious and are being treated as such.

Officers Galluzzi and John Petriello were dispatched to assist two officers working an off-duty secondary employment visibility assignment in the Cumberland Pointe apartment complex in regard to the shots fired call.

Dillon was also believed to have assaulted a woman in a common area, and then entered a stranger’s apartment with innocent people inside. The investigation showed that Galluzzi called Wells concerning the evolving situation, and that Wells subsequently informed Lee.

The two supervisors did not immediately come to the scene. In fact, Galluzzi was told over the phone that, if he had no further information, to write a report and check back into service. Galluzzi, very concerned, telephoned another sergeant, James Boone. Boone, after being made aware of what Galluzzi had been told by Wells, advised Galluzzi to request a North Precinct detective respond to the scene to assist.

The investigation found that after Lee, Wells and Boone heard North Precinct detective Zach Ronan arrive at the apartment complex, the three then headed there. Once on the scene, there was a continuing lack of communication between the supervisors, their officers and witnesses. Ultimately, rather than calling for a specialized SWAT response, Lee obtained a pass key to the apartment where the suspect was reported to have been. Lee chose to advance on the apartment and was followed by other officers and supervisors (Officer Galluzzi told investigators that none of the officers thought the decision was proper given the circumstances, but they went along without a supervisory plan in place).

Lee used the pass key to open the door to the apartment and announced that she was conducting a welfare check. During this, gunman Sershawn Martez Dillon, 30, fired his pistol and ran out of the apartment, causing all of the officers to move for cover. During this, Detective Ronan and Officer Petriello fired on Dillon, who was fatally wounded. Galluzzi was hit in the leg and ankle during the gunfire.

Sergeant James Boone was found to have used faulty decision making by not communicating with Lee directly about what he knew of the evolving situation at the apartment complex. For that, Boone has been recommended for a five-day suspension.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is handling the investigation into the officer-involved shooting. The Office of Professional Accountability investigation has taken place with the TBI’s go ahead.