SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Officers in three officer-involved shooting incidents, of which two were fatal, have been cleared of wrongdoing by a Sullivan County Grand Jury.
The incidents involved Sullivan County deputies and Kingsport and Bristol police officers.
April 17, 2019 incident involving Kingsport Police
According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Kingsport police officers were called to a home on Mullins Street in reference to a domestic assault.
TBI agents said officers found Witt armed with a knife. They said he ignored commands to drop the knife; instead, he approached officers. They then opened fire.
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The grand jury returned true bills against Witt for charges of two counts of aggravated assault and a count of domestic assault.
According to the report, the grand jury also decided the two officers involved in the shooting acted within KPD’s “Use of Force” policy.
June 7, 2019 incident involving Bristol, Tennessee Police
On the morning of June 7, BTPD officers responded to a call at 42 Crown Circle to assist a homeowner in serving a court order to her estranged husband.
At some point, the man, later identified as Jason Nash, reached for a gun. According to the TBI, one of the officers then fired a single shot, hitting Nash.
Nash was taken to the hospital, where he later died.
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According to the grand jury report, a statement from a “female companion/friend, who had been inside the home with Nash for two prior days, revealed that they were doing drugs together…” The statement also revealed, “Nash had talked about committing ‘suicide by cop’ because he said things had gotten so bad.”
The grand jury also reviewed the autopsy report, which stated a toxic level of methamphetamine/amphetamine, a therapeutic level of buprenorphine and its metabolite, acetaminophen, a nicotine metabolite and caffeine were all found in Nash’s system.
“The officer’s weapon was a 9mm Smith and Wesson handgun with Winchester+P ammunition. A projectile of that kind was recovered at the scene. Nash’s weapon was not fired,” the report showed.
The grand jury ruled the BTPD officer involved in the shooting acted within the department’s Use of Force Policy.
June 10, 2019 incident involving the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office
The third officer-involved shooting happened days after the Bristol incident, on Diana Avenue. It involved Sullivan County deputies.
A TBI release at the time stated that just before 1:30 p.m. on June 10, deputies learned Terry Frost, who was wanted on at least one felony warrant, was in the area of Pennsylvania Road.
News Channel 11 learned at the time that those deputies spotted Frost running from a house. He was later found on Diana Avenue getting into a gold SUV, driven by a woman.
According to the TBI, a deputy stopped the SUV and ordered the woman out. Frost then jumped into the driver’s seat and tried to flee.
The grand jury report showed that Frost accelerated into the police “cruiser blocking him from behind and then accelerated forward toward other officers standing outside the cruisier (sic) block him from the front.”
The report also stated, “An officer attempting to remove Frost from the vehicle, grabbed the steering wheel to prevent him from hitting the other officers, and that same officer who was being dragged along eventually fired shots striking Frost.”
The grand jury reportedly viewed a PowerPoint presentation including photographs of the different scenes at which the incident unfolded. They also heard witness statements.
According to the grand jury report, a review of the autopsy findings showed that methamphetamine/amphetamine was in Frost’s system, along with cannabinoids and nicotine. The cause of death was listed as “five penetrating gunshot wounds of the left arm, shoulder, and torso.”
The grand jury determined the deputy acted within SCSO’s Use of Force Policy.
2019 Officer-involved shootings in Tennessee
According to the TBI, there have been 32 officer-involved shooting in Tennessee from January 1 through September 11, 2019. Six of those have been in Northeast Tennessee, with five of those in Sullivan County. The other occurred in Greene County on May 17.