Autopsy report of February officer-involved shooting reveals new details

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — The autopsies of the Sullivan County deputy and the suspect in a deadly February 2019 standoff reveal new details about their deaths.

The autopsies of Sergeant Steven B. Hinkle of the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office and suspect Jackie Pendergrass were released by request to News Channel 11.

Sgt. Hinkle, 65, and Pendergrass, 44, were both killed during the incident on Hwy 11W in Blountville.

Officers responded to a welfare check at Pendergrass’ home, which led to the shootout. Shots were exchanged and Sgt. Hinkle was shot outside the residence.

After sending in a robot to check the house, officers found Pendergrass had killed himself and two of the family dogs. 

According to the reports, Sgt. Hinkle’s cause of death was a penetrating indeterminate-range gunshot wound to the head from a .22 caliber rifle. 

Despite efforts and the removal of the projectile from Sgt. Hinkle’s head, his condition did not improve, and he died three days after the shooting.

The autopsy concluded that Pendergrass’ cause of death was suicide by a contact-range gunshot wound of the head.

Pendergrass had been shot in the back by officers prior to shooting himself, but the wound was non-lethal and determined to be unlikely to have caused or contributed to his death.

The analysis also revealed that Pendergrass had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.212%, meaning he was intoxicated. For reference, it is illegal to drive with a BAC of 0.08%.

The examinations were conducted at the William L. Jenkins Forensic Center in Johnson City.

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