State agents have launched their first investigation of the new year into a shooting by law enforcement.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is working to understand how an encounter in Dickson County on Tuesday led to a nonfatal shooting.
Officials say deputies from the Dickson County Sheriff’s Office were attempting serve a warrant for a parole violation when the man fled in a car. Then, they say, “for reasons still under investigation, the situation escalated, resulting in at least two deputies firing their weapons, striking and injuring the man.”
The TBI’s independent investigations for such use-of-force incidents have become more common in recent years.
When police or sheriff’s deputies shot someone, it used to be common for their own department to investigate the incident. But that raised concerns that officers might turn a blind eye to their colleagues’ misconduct.
So, state agents now conduct their own review of shootings by law enforcement, whenever the local district attorney asks them too.
In 2015, Shelby County law enforcement agencies signed an agreement with the TBI to request their investigation for any death at the hands of an on-duty law enforcement officer, as well as all “unusual or questionable” deaths in custody at local local jails.
Nashville signed a similar agreement two years later that asks the TBI to investigate every fatal shooting by police. District Attorney Glenn Funk also typically asks state agents to review nonfatal shootings by law enforcement.
District attorneys in the rest of the state decide on a case-by-case basis. State law does not require TBI investigations for law enforcement use-of-force incidents.
Still, the number of TBI investigations is on the rise — from 46 in 2020 to 55 last year. That increase is largely the result of a spike in shootings by Nashville police in 2021.
The TBI investigated 10 shootings by Nashville police last year. Three of the reviews are still ongoing. The district attorney has not announced criminal charges in any of the 10 cases.