Knoxville District Attorney General Charme Allen said on Wednesday that officers will not be charged in the shooting death of Anthony Thompson Jr.
Thompson, a 17-year-old black student, was a junior at Austin-East Magnet High School in Knoxville,
Cops had been responding to a domestic violence complaint made by Thompson’s ex-girlfriend’s mother when they pursued him at the school. The mother, Regina Perkins, claims Thompson had been violent with her daughter.
He was shot dead in a bathroom stall after a brief struggle with police, who say the teen had a gun.
Allen said during a news conference that the teen’s family had begged her not to release the tapes today but she had promised the public she would release them after the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation gave two different versions of the killing.
The TBI had said in the aftermath of the shooting that Thompson had fired at police first and was killed when they returned fire. Then the agency said, two days later, that Thompson’s gun did not fire the bullet that struck a police officer.
‘This is a self-defense case. At the end of the day, we have found the shooting by Officer Clabough was justified,’ Allen said.
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Anthony Thompson Jr., 17, was shot to death by police officers at Austin-East Magnet High School in Knoxville, Tennessee on April 12
The incident started after Thompson was accused of domestic violence against an ex-girlfriend at the school
‘I have just spent four hours with this family and I will tell you that was a painful long agonizing four hours for that family, but we talked about the death of their 17-year-old son, and one thing that family asked me not to do was release those tapes today,’ Allen said.
‘But because I had made a promise that once I completed the file and once I talked to the family I would release the tapes.’
Allen defended her office’s decision not to immediately release the tapes as demands for them grew in the aftermath of the shooting while giving reasoning for the ‘quick and thorough turnaround’ of the investigation.
‘Everybody has demanded those answers right now. And so I don’t think my correct response would have been to immediately release only part of the evidence in this case that would have potentially tainted the criminal prosecution,’ she said.
‘And not only that, I think it would have allowed the community to make rush decisions without all the evidence. Because you know what? Those videos are not the only evidence in this case.’
Allen added that she is ‘not at odds’ with the media, politicians and advocacy groups that have demanded the release of the tapes.
‘We’re on the same side, because the side that we’re all on is that we want the truth of what happened, we all want justice to be served, and we want all of our kids to feel safe at all of our schools.’
Allen called on changing laws that she said prohibit prosecutors from releasing tapes during an investigation.
Newly released video footage shows Knoxville Police Department officers preparing to arrest Thompson on a complaint of domestic violence
Thompson was seen scuffling with officers over a gun in his sweatshirt pocket in a school bathroom
A body camera video shows a gun inside the student’s pocket before he was shot
Footage shows a school resource officer on the ground who had also been shot by another officer
She then walked through the events of the day that caused Thompson to lose his life.
At about 12.30pm at Austin-East Magnet High School, Thompson got into a ‘domestic incident’ with another student, Allen said. The two got into another domestic incident at 12.48pm.
‘These two domestic assaults … are the impetus to this whole day’s trajectory,’ Allen said, before noting that she would not show the footage of the fights which were released to local news outlets.
Regina Perkins, the mother of Thompson’s girlfriend, sent him text messages at 1.16pm. Allen showed those texts to media present during the news conference.
‘U better stop what ur doing now ur disrespectful asf and I’ve called the police! I’m done with ur threats to my daughter and u putting ur gd hands on her. U step foot on my property and u will go to jail period,’ Perkins had texted Thompson. ‘U will be blocked and goodbye.’
Thompson then responded with ‘get off my phone girl.’
The mom then shot back: ‘F*** you lil boy.’
The conversation continues before the mom notifies Thompson that she is on the phone with ‘Officer Carlos.’
‘This is the first notice that Anthony Thompson had that the police were involved or that they were coming. This is what sets the whole trajectory in motion,’ Allen said.
Perkins has told the Knoxville News Sentinel that she regrets calling police officers.
Allen then showed security footage from the high school starting at 1.17pm just after Perkins texted Thompson.
‘You’re going to see him walking around the halls in this video and then you’re going to see his response as soon as he receives the text from Regina Perkins,’ Allen said.
Knoxville District Attorney General Charme Allen said on Wednesday that officers will not be charged in the shooting death
In a two-hour news conference, Allen walked through the events of April 12 and why the police shooting was justified as officers feared for their lives
Thompson is then seen running through the halls of the school and out a door to the outside of the school.
Surveillance footage shows Thompson run across the school parking lot before making his way back toward the building and ultimately re-enters the school around 1.24pm. Another student sitting on the stairwell lets him back into the building.
Thompson is seen hanging out near that exit again until around 1.39pm when he exits the building again and paces in front of the school while talking on the phone.
He enters the school again at 1.51pm and again hangs out in the same area then sits on the stairs, and is seen again on his phone at 1.59pm.
At that same time, Perkins makes her 911 call about Thompson – which was played during the press conference.
‘My daughter got into an altercation at school today with an ex-boyfriend … He keeps getting his hands on my daughter, and that happened again today,’ Perkins says in the call.
She adds: ‘I think her feelings are hurt more than she actually is.’
Perkins explains to officers that Thompson has previously threatened her daughter with a 9mm pistol.
Knoxville Police Department officer Jonathon Clabough, the officer who later fires the shot which killed Thompson, responds to the Perkins address for the 911 call around 2.15pm to ‘take the domestic violence report.’
‘Something has to be done to stop this,’ the concerned mother tells cops in body camera footage.
Regina Perkins, the white mom of Thompson’s ex-girlfriend, has addressed her calling of the police
The girl then tells cops that the two had gotten into an argument stemming from the weekend when she ignored him, ‘which frustrated him.’
‘I’m tired of the threats, I’m tired of the fights, I’m tired of being scared,’ she tells cops while crying.
Officer Clabough then calls the school Security Resource Officer Willson for more information on Thompson – who confirms to Clabough that there had been a domestic assault incident at the school.
Officer Willson later added that he witnessed the domestic incident.
‘Officer Willson tells Officer Clabough that there is some history with Anthony Thompson, that he resists or runs when confronted,’ Allen said in the press conference.
Officer Clabough tells Perkins he’s ‘going to go and hook him and if he’s gone, I’m going to put warrants on him.’
‘Thank you,’ the mom says in the body camera footage.
‘I’d say that based on speaking with the officer down there at the school, with him going to jail and committing the offense on school property, he’s probably done. They’ll expel him,’ the officer says.
The officer then speaks again with the girl, and tells her that she should get an order of protection and that Thompson ‘will go to jail.’ Clabough leaves the home around 2.35pm.
While the officers were responding to the home, Thompson entered the restroom where the shooting takes place around 2.16pm and he does not ever leave that restroom again.
At 2.23pm, Thompson texts Perkins and she shoots back a picture of the police car parked outside her home.
‘You know I didn’t hit her, right?’ Thompson texted her back.
At 2.51pm, Thompson receives another text message from Perkins and also got another text message from another student notifying him police were coming.
Clabough then puts out a call to Officer Baldwin who was nearby under police department policy for the two to arrest Thompson. Lieutenant Cash all plan to go to the school together to arrest him on a domestic violence charge.
The three officers enter from the back of the school under the advisement of Officer Willson and body camera footage shows Officer Baldwin entering the school at 2.53pm.
Allen said during the press conference that officers did not know Thompson had a gun with him – adding ‘this isn’t really a gun call at all.’ She noted that police officers were responding to a domestic violence complaint.
‘They have to go in and find him, it takes a while to find him,’ Allen said.
In body camera footage, Willson tells Clabough that the school ‘followed him on camera’ but believed he was still in the building because he hadn’t left the school.
The officers then review video footage in an attempt to find Thompson at 3pm. A school security officer then assists the police officers in locating him, noting that Thompson is known to hang out in the bathroom where he was shot.
Allen then played the graphic body camera footage from all for Knoxville Police Department employees, including the school resource officer, from the time that they confront Thompson.
When officers enter the restroom, Thompson is sitting on a toilet in a stall with the door open. Cops direct him to stand and put his hands up.
When Thompson stands, cops are seen grabbing his arms and trying to secure them behind his back while one of the officers reaches into Thompson’s sweatshirt pocket to get hold of a gun seen poking out of the ‘kangaroo pouch.’
The video shows Clabough shoot Thompson in the back while his arms are being secured by the other officers.
‘He put both hands in his pocket. That’s when they yell at him to get his hands out of his pocket. Since then he has kept his right hand in his pocket,’ Allen said.
One of the officer’s body cameras shows Thompson’s gun falling out into the stall, and Allen said one shot had been fired from his gun, which hit a trash can.
Thompson then falls to the ground face down while Clabough fires his weapon twice, hitting Thompson – and Officer Willson in the leg, who falls on top of the student.
Another student in the restroom at the time of the shooting is ordered down to the ground at gunpoint. That student is then also put into handcuffs while screaming at cops that Thompson is bleeding.
An officer is then seen washing blood off his hands in the school bathroom’s sink.
‘We have an officer down,’ cops say into their radio.
‘They all believed they were wrestling with the gun to get it away from him and none of the officers saw the gun come out of his pocket. But through this fight, which lasted 11 seconds, none of the officers realized the gun was gone,’ Allen said.
Allen concluded that ‘it is reasonable to believe his life was in danger.’
Thompson’s family is being represented by civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, who posted about the shooting before the press conference on Wednesday.
‘Regina Perkins didn’t approve of her daughter’s relationship with 17yo Black teen Anthony Thompson Jr, so she called 911. And what did Knoxville Police Department – TN do? They swarmed Anthony’s high school and fatally shot him in the bathroom!’ Crump wrote.
‘Now Regina says she regrets her 911 call. CLEARLY. Another call to police leading to excessive force and another dead Black teen… this was CLEARLY PREVENTABLE.’
Perkins told the
‘Alexus told me that she was grabbed and that her hair was pulled, and that is really what led me to feel that I needed to do more,’ she said.
Perkins told the outlet she tried to contact Anthony’s mother before calling police, but was unsuccessful
‘I am so sorry and I never meant for anything to happen to him,’ Perkins said.
‘We are mourning. My daughter is grieving the loss of her first love and we also want answers and justice in this case.’
Perkins said that her daughter ‘loved him’ and called him a ‘good kid.’
‘He was a good kid. He had dreams and goals, but he had some struggles. They both have gone through a lot of things and, as a parent, I felt it was necessary to protect her after I saw things were heading in the wrong direction the last few months,’ she said.
She added: ‘That child should not be dead. We all want justice for Anthony. He should still be here.’
Attorneys who represent three of the officers issued a statement on Wednesday praising Allen for her decision, according to the outlet.
‘We look forward to returning to our duties and serving the city of Knoxville once again,’ the statement reads. The officers have been on paid leave since the shooting.