MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) " No criminal charges will be filed against a police officer who fatally shot a man inside a home last year, despite a witness' statements that the man was not holding a rifle or pointing it at an officer during a confrontation.
In a statement released Wednesday, Shelby County district attorney Amy Weirich said the officer was acting in self-defense when he shot Alexio Allen on March 23 in the Memphis, Tennessee, neighborhood of Raleigh. Weirich does not name the officer, but police records show it was Officer Leon Dickson who shot Allen, 30. Both men are black.
Allen was making irrational statements and struggling with his fiancee over a rifle, which he pointed at the officer, Weirich's statement said. But the fiancee, Debra Nesbit, has told The Associated Press that she was not struggling with Allen and he was not holding the weapon when he was shot. Nesbit said she was holding the rifle and the weapon's muzzle was facing her " not the officer " when Allen was shot.
It is the second time in nearly three months that Weirich has declined to pursue charges against officers in a shooting involving police. In November, Weirich said two officers " one white and one black " would not be charged in the death of 32-year-old Jonathon Bratcher in January 2016. Weirich said she believed a jury would find the officers had "lawful justification" to shoot at Bratcher, who had been firing a weapon at police during a foot chase.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation investigates fatal shootings by police in Shelby County, and then presents its findings to Weirich. The bureau's files are confidential, but as she has done in the past for other cases, Weirich filed a petition in Chancery Court that the Allen file be publicly released.
At the time of the shooting, bureau spokeswoman Susan Niland said police had responded to a report that a person with a weapon was having a mental health episode at a home. Allen became agitated when officers arrived, and reached for a rifle, Niland said. There was a struggle for the rifle between Allen and a woman, and the situation escalated before the officer fired his gun, Niland said.
"This was a tragedy for everyone involved," Weirich said. "Unfortunately, the officer was forced to act in self-defense and in the defense of other officers and family members inside the house that night."
In the days after Allen was killed, Nesbit told the AP the bureau's assertion that she was struggling with her boyfriend over the rifle was wrong.
According to Nesbit, three officers entered the home and asked if there were any guns in the house. They told Allen to put his hands on the wall. He then put his hands on a door jamb.
Nesbit told officers there was a rifle in the house, and she went to retrieve it from a closet. She found the rifle and slid it down a hallway toward officers, with the muzzle facing her, Nesbit said.
Allen then walked toward the rifle and picked it up by the butt, Nesbit said.
Nesbit said she walked toward Allen and begged him to give her the gun. With his back to the officers as he faced Nesbit, Allen handed her the rifle as one officer fired two shots toward his back from just a few feet away, Nesbit said.
Nesbit said the muzzle of the rifle was pointed at her when the officer fired.
"When he shot him, the gun was in my hand," Nesbit said. "He already released it. ... There wasn't no struggle."
Nesbit said she did not hear the officer give any orders to put the rifle down before he fired. After Allen fell to the ground face up, the officer shot him in the chest, she said. She demanded that the officer who shot her boyfriend face criminal charges.
Authorities have not said where on his body Allen was shot. Niland has declined comment on Nesbit's story.
Dickson also was investigated for the shooting death of another man in 2013. It was ruled justified.
This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings