Multiple state investigations behind officer-involved deaths across Tennessee Valley remain open
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Since the beginning of 2023, there have been seven different investigations opened on officer-involved deaths across the Tennessee Valley. The investigations were moved from their respective police departments and turned over to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency before being handed to the District Attorney’s Office.
Losing a loved one is never easy and with these prolonged investigations, the healing process goes by slowly for the families of those who were killed.
WAFF 48 News Anchor Margo Gray created an outline of all officer-involved deaths across the Tennessee Valley since Jan. 2023.
Ray King, 50 was shot outside of his home on Dixon Road by Madison County deputies. Family members say deputies had the wrong home and shot the wrong person.
After seeing flashlights circling his home, the family says King grabbed his gun to check it out. After viewing surveillance video from across the street, the family told WAFF 48 News’ Haley Baker that did have a gun in his hands but:
“I saw it, he never raised that gun,” said Ray King’s Sister, Tina Walker.
That investigation is now in the hands of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and will eventually be handed to the Madison County District Attorney to determine if it was justified.
On this night, Huntsville Police shot and killed 48-year-old Christopher Osborne when they responded to a domestic violence call on Chadburn Drive. For more than an hour, police talked to Osborne who was holding a gun to his head in a car on the street. It’s unclear what happened next but Osborne was killed.
Just hours apart, 40-year-old Jason Harbin was shot by two Colbert County deputies and a Cherokee officer after they say he pointed a gun at them on Highway 72 and Cove Road in Cherokee. They initially responded to the area for a welfare check involving a person being held against their will.
WAFF 48 News was told Harbin pointed a gun at officers after fighting with them.
Family members called Tuscumbia Police to a home on Walker Avenue over George Handley threatening them on this night.
After a standoff, Handley was shot and killed. The family told us they believe police did nothing wrong.
While chasing a suspect a Gurley police officer slammed right into an innocent driver, that driver was Matthew Norwood. WAFF 48 News have still not been told why the officer was chasing the suspect or why he was out of his jurisdiction during the chase.
Huntsville Police shot and killed Sterling Arnold along Monroe Street in downtown Huntsville. Police say Arnold pointed a gun at them.
Less than a month after the shooting, the officer who fired the shot has already been cleared to return to work based on a preliminary review of the case from the Madison County District Attorney’s Office.
Decatur Police arrived at the home of 39-year-old Stephen Perkins on Ryan Drive after making contact with a tow truck driver who attempted to repossess a vehicle from him. From the initial interaction, police said Perkins then pulled a handgun on the tow truck driver, who fled the scene.
From there officers made their way to the home along with the tow truck driver at the scene. Perkins then allegedly exited his home armed with a handgun and threatened the tow truck driver. DPD they ordered Perkins to drop the weapon, but that did not happen. Officials say Perkins then turned the gun towards one of the officers at the scene leading the officer to discharged his weapon.
So why are investigations turned over to the state bureau? The answer is that police cannot and should not investigate members of their own department.
To avoid any indication of bias or collusion cases are handled by the state bureau and its findings are then turned over to local county district attorneys to determine if the actions by an officer are justified or should result in charges.
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