Police Release Video of Tennessee Officer Fatally Shooting Ax-wielding Woman (Warning Graphic Footage)
The Gallatin Police Department have released a body camera footage of a shooting in which a police officer kills a woman who was approaching him, wielding a medieval-style ax, according to The Tennessean.
The shooting happened Wednesday, April 6, in front of an apartment where the woman was set to be evicted.
The video was released Thursday, April 7. It shows Gallatin Police Officer James Spray telling 40-year-old Laronda Sweatt, who was holding the ax, to stop approaching him multiples times before fatally shooting her.
Sweatt threatened Spray, which provoked the shooting. The footage also shows Spray backing up against his police car before firing two shots at Sweatt.
“As [Sweatt] continued advancing and making aggressive movement with the ax toward our officer, Officer Spray fired two shots, striking Sweatt both times,” a news release from Gallatin police stated.
The footage was captured by a camera from Spray’s vest and from another officer.
After Sweatt was fatally shot, police said officers attended to Sweatt. The woman was pronounced dead at Sumner Regional Medical Center.
According to the Sacramento Bee, Ella Sweatt, Sweatt’s mother, said in a telephone interview April 7 that her daughter was bipolar and the housing authority knew about her condition. She said authorities didn’t give advance notice that they were coming to see Laronda Sweatt, who had wanted to work out a payment agreement for her rent.
“She wasn’t a bad person,” Ella Sweatt said. “She didn’t weigh but 94 pounds.”
“I want to know why he did her like that,” Ella Sweatt said. “He didn’t have to.”
Sweatt’s daughter Alainna Sweatt, 22, says the minute-long police video has been edited and doesn’t tell the full story. She said it’s “half of the story that the police wants you to see.”
“Before they start judging, people should see the entire, unedited video, so they can make their own conclusions,” Alainna Sweatt said. “This is not doing my mother any justice. She was not a person who was out there to attack police officers. She was provoked.”
Spray has been placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation.
The Gallatin Police Department said in a news release their “hearts are heavy” because “a life was taken.”
“We ask the community to lift up prayers for the Sweatt family along with the law enforcement families of those involved and the employees of the Gallatin Housing Authority who witnessed this tragic incident,” the news release read.