UPDATE: (8:45 a.m.) — The Mobile County Sheriff’s Office have released the names of the officers involved in the shooting. They are Corporal JT Thornton, Deputy Nathaniel Kersten, and Deputy Owen Bradley.
SEMMES, Ala. (WKRG) — Three Mobile County deputies are on paid administrative leave while the sheriff’s office investigates Tuesday night’s officer involved shooting on Lott Road. The sheriff’s office is calling the incident a suicide by cop.
The sheriff’s office said it got two calls from Lott Road late Tuesday night. One from Terrance White’s wife, the other from his neighbor, both saying White was acting erratically and had a gun. Speaking of the neighbor’s 911 call, Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran said, “so they offered, do I need to call you an ambulance, and he said if you call an ambulance, I will kill the ambulance driver.”
The sheriff’s office said when 66-year-old Terrance White went to his neighbor’s house, his wife ran from their home, telling deputies about her husband’s violent history. Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran said, “The reason so many of the cases were undocumented, she was scared to call the police because if she started to, or made the reference to that, he would always say he would kill the police if she called them.”
The sheriff’s office says deputies searched White’s house and he was not inside. Deputies found White in his backyard. Sheriff Cochran said, “He appeared with a flashlight, a very bright light, and a firearm in his hand holding it to his head.”
Sheriff Cochran said deputies initially tried talking White down and wanted to use less deadly options. He said, “When he began advancing on them, they would not have been in a position to use the less lethal weapon.”
The sheriff’s office said White fired at deputies and used the flashlight he was holding to try and blind the officers. Deputies fired back hitting and killing Terrance White. At this point, the sheriff’s office cannot say how many times White was shot.
Sheriff Cochran said, “We look at this as a case we refer to in law enforcement as a suicide by cop.” The sheriff continued saying his deputies have recently undergone training on this specific subject. He said, “This is been a topic that has received a lot of attention the last couple of years in law enforcement, so we’ve recently undergone training for suicide by cop.”
The sheriff’s office is not sure exactly what led up to White’s behavior on Tuesday, but says he had recently undergone surgery, and was released from the hospital only a few days before shooting at deputies. Sheriff Cochran said, “He had medication for his pain, but he was enduring severe pain and making threats to kill himself, or his wife, and so we don’t know if any type of medication he was on could have caused this.”
Sheriff Cochran said after the sheriff’s office finishes its investigation, it will submit its report to Mobile County’s District Attorney who will decide if any laws were broken, and if any action needs to be taken by the grand jury. He added the deputies will be able to return to work as soon as their part in the investigation is over.
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