Nashville police are defending the officers involved in the shooting death of a black teenager Sunday night. In a highly unusual move, they’ve also released an interview with one of the officers before the investigation is complete.
Police were investigating a robbery in southeast Nashville when they found 16-year-old Xavier McDonald in an apartment bathroom with a pistol. Sergeant Michelle Jones tried repeatedly to get McDonald to surrender his weapon. He refused, and as he started to walk out of the apartment, an officer fired a Taser at him.
McDonald fired back with his .40-caliber pistol, hitting another officer in the leg. Four policemen then shot McDonald, who later died. A preliminary autopsy shows he was hit three to four times in the torso.
Talking to reporters Monday afternoon, police chief Steve Anderson explained that using a Taser in a situation like this was an attempt to use the least force possible, although it was unsuccessful:
As a black male, McDonald’s death comes at a highly charged moment nationwide. Police spokesman Don Aaron says this incident shouldn’t be compared to shootings of unarmed suspects.
“What happened here is starkly different from what happened in Missouri and what happened in New York,” Aaron says. “The circumstances and the facts to this case are unique to this case. What you have here is a gunman who refused all efforts to bring him into custody.”
Police took a nearly unprecendented step to release a video interview of Sergeant Michelle Jones, who once worked in the youth services division, explaining how she realized McDonald had a gun and tried to cajole him to hand it over. It’s not clear whether this decision was connected to the police shootings around the country.
McDonald had been released from the Woodland Hills Detention Center in September. The police chief called the incident a tragedy.
Here’s the video released by Metro police.