MT. JULIET, Tenn. (WKRN) — The family attorney for a man killed by a Mt. Juliet police officer says deadly force was not necessary; however, a retired police officer with nearly 50 years of experience says the officer was trapped and acted appropriately.
On Wednesday, the Mt. Juliet Police Department released dash and body camera footage from a deadly officer-involved shooting from Nov. 2, 2022.
According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, two Mt. Juliet police officers pulled over a car and spoke with the female driver and her passenger — 39-year-old Eric Allen.
Agents say the passenger slid into the driver’s seat and began to drive away.
Retired Sgt. Jim Detlefsen says during his almost half-century in law enforcement, he used deadly force twice and says in this case the officer was justified.
“Once the officer was trying to get him out of the car and he went to the driver seat and the officer climbed in too, that put the officer in a lot of danger,” he said.
While Detlefsen said that getting into the passenger seat may not have been the best tactical move for the officer’s own safety, this was a tense situation and the officer acted appropriately and gave Allen warnings before firing his weapon.
“I think deadly force would be a good move, but not the ideal one for anybody. No one wants to shoot anybody,” Detlefsen added.
But the attorney for Eric Allen’s family sees the incident differently.
He noted that Allen was not the driver when the car got pulled over and the officer wasn’t justified in using deadly force.
“The public needs to know that [the officer] was actually in the car and all he had to do was deescalate the situation by talking to Mr. Allen and convincing Mr. Allen to stop the car and pull over,” attorney Terry Clayton said.
Clayton also said the officer’s life was not in danger in the moments leading up to shooting Allen.
“At no time was the officer in any peril, he was under no duress, his life was never threatened, nor was any else’s life threatened by the actions Mr. Allen took,” said Clayton.
Clayton said the Allen family wants this to lead to changes in how police operate.
“They want police officers to demonstrate that the use of deadly force is not necessary if their lives are not put in imminent bodily harm,” he said.
The district attorney is still reviewing this case and will begin the review process soon. The officer is back on duty.