A Tennessee police officer’s shooting of a man was ruled justified Tuesday, though dash cam footage released this week shows the officer using an AR-15 to shoot at the man five times.
Police lieutenant Daniel Stephenson will not face charges for fatally shooting 54-year-old Todd Browning, according to Hamilton County District Attorney Neal Pinkston.
Stephenson fired at Browning five times with an AR-15 outside Browning’s home after following the man to his house August, 2015. Police maintained that Browning tried to run at Stephenson.
The shooting was ruled justified because Stephenson had reason to believe that Browning would cause him bodily harm, the district attorney said.
Police were called to a local AutoZone after reports surfaced about about a man in the store allegedly threatening customers with a knife. Reports said the man threatened to kill customers and was throwing things around the store.
Browning tried to charge Stephenson while he was in the store, according to police.
“He very likely could have used deadly force against this guy inside the store,” Stephenson’s attorney said. “He showed some restraint by holstering his weapon.”
Dash cam footage then shows both men exiting the store. Browning drives off in his pickup truck, while Stephenson watches him go. Stephenson then makes his way to his squad car.
According to investigators, Stephenson came across Browning again a little less than a mile away at Browning’s home. Stephenson exits his vehicle, armed with an AR-15. Browning tried to charge Stephenson, investigators said.
Stephenson’s lawyer alleged that Browning carried a three-foot steel plumbing tool and swung it “in a threatening manner.”
Dash camera footage shows Browning and Stephenson exchanging tense words.
“I’ll kill you! You want to kill me?” Browning is heard screaming. Stephenson tells him not to come any further; the video then shows Stephenson opening fire five times.
“Lt. Stephenson acted well within the law and, as a result, should not face any charges,” District Attorney Neal Pinkston declared in a statement.
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