(ANDERSON CO. TN) - The Anderson County Tennessee District Attorney announced Tuesday morning that sheriff's department deputies were justified in using deadly force in the Feb. 29 shoot-out that killed two Linton residents.
Nick Schneider of the Greene County Daily World reports that Anderson County District Attorney General Dave Clark said that the veteran deputies involved in the incident, Jonathan "Adam" Bryant, and Corp. James Daniel "J.D." Powell, had little choice but to use deadly force against the Greene County couple - 32-year-old Michael "Mikey" Baker and 25-year-old Shanna Richardson.
The district attorney said Richardson and Baker fired "two to six shots" at the deputies during the fatal exchange.
Clark says Baker fired the first shot at a deputy who had pulled his police cruiser along side the truck Baker was driving.
Bryant fired 16 shots with his .223-caliber sheriff's department rifle throughout the gunfight, the District Attorney's Investigative Finding and Report showed.
The report stated that autopsies showed that Baker and Richardson were "under the influence of multiple drugs at the time, including synthetic cathinone, or "bath salts." Baker also had a sedative, Clomazepam, in his system and Richardson had marijuana.
Inside the truck, authorities found a spoon that also contained traces of bath salts, the district attorney said.
The two, who were identified as boyfriend-girlfriend in Greene County court documents, are alleged to have driven a truck stolen from Veterinarian Roy Whitman that was parked at the Linton Vet Clinic to a Lake City, Tenn., service station where they drove off without paying for $146 in diesel fuel. A chase followed after a shotgun was fired at a pursing police vehicle.
Clark said officers have been unable to determine why Baker and Richardson where in that area other than to say they were probably traveling south on Interstate 75 and exited for fuel.
The Greene County couple eventually had a flat tire and wrecked the truck in a rural area northwest of Knoxville.
Bryant started chasing the couple after a citizen helped extract the couple's stolen Ford F-250 pickup truck from a ditch in a rural area, became suspicious and alerted authorities.
Speeds during the chase were near 100 mph, according to the report.
When the pursuit slowed, Bryant pulled his cruiser alongside the truck, and an in-service video shows that Baker fired the .22 caliber handgun at the deputy through the truck's open window.
Powell, who was off-duty, arrived after Baker stopped his truck and a gunfight was already in progress at the intersection of Old Emory Road and Blockhouse Valley Road near the town of Lake City, and fired one round.
Clark says Richardson fired at Deputy Bryant from the rear window of the pickup while the Baker was crouched down outside the driver's door; appearing to be doing something inside the vehicle.
Clark says Deputy Bryant concentrated his fire on Richardson, who was firing at him until she appeared to have been hit and stopped shooting.
Baker then refused to drop his weapon and surrender and then ran armed with a handgun toward the fire department building.
Deputies fired at Baker until he was incapacitated near the rear corner of the fire station.
The Linton couple was heavily armed, according to the report.
At the scene and within the truck was found a 12-gauge pump shotgun and 34 rounds of ammunition as well as 58 rounds for a .22 caliber handgun that was also found.
Clark said Richardson was shot six times while Baker was shot twice.
Richardson was killed in the cab of the pickup while Baker died later at University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville.
According to Clark, "The use of deadly force by Deputy Bryant and Corporal Powell did not constitute a crime and was actually consistent with Anderson County Sheriff's Department training and commonly accepted law enforcement standards in similar situations."
The district attorney concluded, "Through a lengthy high speed pursuit and failure to follow multiple commands, Baker and Richardson demonstrated indifference to police authority and disregard for the safety of other citizens ... lethal force was not inappropriate against subject Richardson who was firing at officers from the cab of the truck. In addition, lethal force was not inappropriate against Baker who had previously fired at Bryant and later retrieved the handgun before raising the gun at officers and running with a handgun before being shot himself."
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