On Friday, March 22, the Office of the District Attorney General released a statement in response to the March 9 officer-involved shooting that took place in Joelton.
While the case is set to be reviewed by the Cheatham County Grand Jury in May, District Attorney General Ray Crouch has found the shooting to be "justified."
Crouch issued the following statement:
On behalf of the Office of the District Attorney General, I extend my sympathy and condolences to the family of Ms. Beth Plant. This was a tragic and sorrowful incident.
On March 9, 2019, at approximately 12:43 a.m. a call was received by Cheatham County Emergency Dispatch Service requesting assistance with Ms. Beth Plant.
Cheatham County Emergency Services (EMS) and the Cheatham County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) responded to the residence located on Sha Dawn Road in Joelton, Tennessee. CCSO and EMS arrived at approximately 1:16 a.m.
While in route to Vanderbilt Hospital, Ms. Plant removed a fixed blade knife from her backpack and brandished the knife at EMS personnel. EMS requested law enforcement assistance for a combative patient. EMS personnel ultimately terminated the transport at the intersection of Highway 41-A and New Hope Road. EMS personnel observed Ms. Plant stabbing the windows of the ambulance and attempting to harm herself.
Ms. Plant exited the ambulance before Sgt. Ivey arrived on the scene. Upon arrival at approximately 1:33 a.m. Sgt. Ivey observed Ms. Plant standing in the highway with knife in hand. Sgt. Ivey ordered Ms. Plant to drop the knife. Ms. Plant then moved toward Sgt. Ivey with knife in plain view. Sgt. Ivey retreated from his initial position. Ms. Plant followed Sgt. Ivey as documented in the body worn camera and patrol car video.
Sgt. Ivey gave eight verbal commands to “drop the knife.” Sgt. Ivey clearly warned Ms. Plant that he would “shoot.” Ms. Plant, despite the warnings, continued toward Sgt. Ivey. Sgt. Ivey fired two rounds, both striking Ms. Plant. EMS provided first aid to Ms. Plant for gunshot wounds to the chest area. Ms. Plant was transported to Skyline Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee where she died as a result of the injuries.
At my request, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation responded to this officer involved shooting (OIS). The T.B.I. assumed control of the scene and directed the investigation.
In the State of Tennessee, “deadly force” is a force that is capable of causing death or serious bodily injury. A deadly weapon, as defined by statute, is “anything that in the manner of its use or intended use is capable of causing death or serious bodily injury.”
The use of deadly force is justified when a law enforcement officer reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to protect himself, or third persons, against the other's use or attempted use of deadly force.
Law enforcement officers are qualified and trained to identify and react to the threat of force. Assessment of risk and use of force decisions are made in real time. When facing the threat of deadly force, judgment and reaction must occur in seconds or less. A delay in reaction or failure to respond with appropriate force creates greater risk of injury or death to the law enforcement officer or third persons.
In this case, Sgt. Ivey identified a knife in the hand of Ms. Plant. Sgt. Ivey recognized an immediate threat to himself and to the EMS employees standing near Ms. Plant. Sgt. Ivey directed Ms. Plant’s attention away from the EMS employees and toward himself. Sgt. Ivey announced that he would use deadly force, ordered Ms. Plant to drop the weapon and retreated.
The application of law to the facts and evidence gathered in this case lead me to conclude that Sgt. Ivey’s use of deadly force was justified.
Officer involved shootings resulting in death or injury are routinely presented to a grand jury for review. This case is no exception. The T.B.I. investigation will be reviewed by the Cheatham County Grand Jury in the May term of court. The T.B.I. investigation will be finalized upon receipt of the autopsy report.