Cops cleared, videos released

District Attorney General Charme Allen discusses the shooting at Austin-East that claimed the life of 17-year-old Anthony Thompson Jr. Photo by Jennifer Stambaugh.

Knox County District Attorney General Charme Allen has released the investigative file — including police bodycam videos — of the shooting of 17-year-old Anthony Thompson Jr. at Austin-East Magnet High School.

The file, stored on DVD, contains voluminous files, videos, reports, etc. 

We will have a more complete report for our readers tomorrow, but for now here are the most important developments:

  • DA Allen said today that she had cleared the four officers of criminal wrongdoing. She ruled that KPD Officer Jonathon Clabough lawfully defended himself and his fellow officers when he fired two shots, killing Thompson and wounding Officer Adam Willson.
  • Allen said repeatedly that she had been pressured by the media, other politicians, and activists who were demanding the immediate release of the bodycam videos. She also said she was releasing the videos over the objections of Thompson’s family. 
  • The videos show a swiftly escalating, chaotic encounter between four KPD officers and the teenager that lasted only 11 seconds. 
  • The 9mm pistol Thompson was armed with was hidden in a “kangaroo pocket” in the front of his shirt. One round was fired from Thompson’s gun as the officers and the teen struggled. Fearing that one of his fellow officers had already been shot,  Clabough fired a single round from his .45 caliber pistol that struck Thompson in the chest. As Thompson fell, the pistol slipped out of his shirt and landed in a toilet stall. After Thompson hit the ground, Clabough thought he saw the boy “cant to the left” and, believing he still had the gun, fired a second shot that instead struck Willson. 
  • The round that hit Thompson passed through both the child’s lungs and his heart, causing injuries that were unsurvivable, Allen said. The boy died on the restroom floor as a school nurse attempted to treat his wound.
  • Mayor Indya Kincannon held a press conference after Allen’s presentation. Kincannon stressed the importance of transparency and said that Knoxville needs to heal after a bloody, brutal four months that have seen at least 16 homicides. Five of the victims, including Thompson, have been students at Austin-East.
  • Both Allen and Kincannon said there are far too many firearms in the hands of children.
  • A crowd of protesters descended on KPD headquarters after the videos’ release, demanding that an independent prosecutor re-examine the case with an eye to bringing charges against one or more of the officers.

We’ll have much, much more tomorrow in Hard Knox Wire.