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TBI continues investigation in officer-involved shooting death

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 Greg Thompson Jr. By JENNIFER HORTONThe Wilson PostAn investigation is continuing in the early Wednesday morning shooting death of an unarmed man by a Lebanon Police officer who mistakenly believed the man was shooting at a fellow officer.The body of the victim, Greg Thompson Jr., 22, was transported to the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Nashville for an autopsy. “There should be a preliminary autopsy report completed,” said Kristin Helm, spokesperson for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation which is heading up the investigation into the matter.In the meantime, the two officers, David McKinley and Mitch McDannald, were placed on administrative leave, not suspended as reported by other media, and will remain on leave until the investigation is completed.“That’s our policy, that they’re placed on administrative leave, it’s automatic, until the investigation is completed,” said Lebanon Police Chief Scott Bowen.He noted that the matter was turned over immediately to TBI for an independent investigation.    The incident involving Thompson occurred about 3 a.m. in the 3800 block of Carthage Highway. Bowen said it began at the intersection of Carthage Highway, East Main Street, Highway 70/Baddour Parkway.McKinley was in the lane to turn left from Hwy. 70/Baddour Parkway onto East Main to go toward the Wilson County Courthouse when Thompson rounded the curve on High Street in his vehicle entering the lane where McKinley’s police cruiser was and almost striking the officer’s car head-on.Thompson and McKinley both hit their brakes, and Bowen said Thompson backed up and headed down Carthage Highway. McKinley turned his blue lights on and chased him. Thompson left the roadway approximately 3 miles outside the city limits near Sugar Flat Road with his vehicle going down an embankment.McKinley got out of his police car and went down the embankment to get Thompson out of his vehicle. The other officer, McDannald, had joined the chase, also, and remained on the roadway to cover McKinley.As McKinley, who had drawn his gun, made his way to Thompson and his vehicle, the office slipped on some rocks and accidentally fired his weapon into the air as he tried not to fall.McDannald saw the gun fire and mistakenly believed that Thompson had fired the shot. McDannald then shot and killed Thompson.McKinley reportedly joined the Lebanon Police force in 2007, and McDannald joined it in 2006. He served the majority of 2008 in Iraq. There have been no disciplinary problems with either officer since they joined the department.Bowen noted that McKinley’s and McDannald’s police cars were equipped with new digital cameras that have the ability to back up 30 seconds of recording time once the cameras are turned on.“I’ve personally viewed the video,” the chief said, noting the camera in McKinley’s car began recording before contact was ever made with Thompson’s vehicle.“It pretty much records all the time,” Bowen said of the new digital cameras.The footage of the incident recorded by both cameras is in the hands of TBI investigators.“We need to let them take the time to complete the investigation,” he added.“It’s just a tragic accident,” Bowen said. “Our hearts and prayers go out to Mr. Thompson’s family and to our officers and their families. It’s just terrible.”He asked that everyone pray for Thompson’s family and for the officers and their families, as well.Thompson worked nights at a local factory to support his 2-year-old son, Dereon, and was on his way home from work early Wednesday morning when the incident happened.Thompson’s father, Gregory Thompson Sr., said his son had been arrested for a DUI previously but was dealing with that situation. Law enforcement personnel said Thompson had no history of committing any crimes of violence. He did have some traffic violations.Thompson was a graduate of Watertown High School where he played football.It was dark and foggy along the roadway at the time of the incident, Bowen said, adding that law enforcement officers sometimes “have to make those split-second decisions. It’s all on video.”Editor Jennifer Horton may be contacted at news@wilsonpost.com.
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