A police officer who shot and killed a high school student in Knoxville, Tennessee, last Monday will not be charged, prosecutors said.
Knox County District Attorney Charme Allen said Officer Jonathon Clabough was justified and acting in self-defense when he fatally shot Anthony Thompson Jr., 17, at Austin-Magnet High School on April 12. During a Wednesday press conference, Allen released surveillance and body-camera footage showing Clabough firing two shots, killing Thompson and injuring another officer, Adam Willson, in the leg.
Four officers responded to a call of domestic abuse involving Thompson’s former girlfriend at the high school, according to NBC affiliate WBIR. Officers Clabough, Willson and two others can be seen in the body-camera footage entering the school’s bathroom. They located Thompson inside a stall and asked him to show his hands, according to the video.
The footage shows the officers trying to handcuff Thompson, who can be heard repeatedly saying, “My bad, my bad.” One officer grabs Thompson’s left hand, while his right hand remains in the front pocket of his hoodie, according to the video. Clabough said in a statement he could see the barrel of a gun pointing at him from inside the pocket.
A single shot fired from the gun hit a trash can but none of the officers, Allen said. It was unclear if the handgun fired accidentally.
After the first shot, Thompson can be heard repeatedly saying, “Wait, wait, wait.”
Clabough quickly draws his weapon and shoots Thompson in the upper chest, video shows. According to Allen, Clabough said in his statement that he saw Thompson fire the gun and believed one of his colleagues was shot when he stepped back.
Video shows Clabough firing a second shot as Thompson falls to the ground, hitting Willson in the leg. An officer then handcuffs another student in the bathroom who can be heard pleading for authorities to help Thompson after he said he could see blood coming from his body, the footage shows.
“Help him! Please help him! Please, please,” the student says, according to the video.
The officers called the school nurse for medical assistance after they saw large amounts of blood when Thompson was handcuffed and turned over, according to the DA. Allen said the medical examiner said there was “no way he could have recovered from this particular injury no matter what aid was rendered.”
Knoxville Police Chief Eve Thomas said in a statement on Wednesday that she was grateful investigators determined that the officers were “cleared of any wrongdoing.”
“With that being said, this was an incredibly tragic and traumatic experience for everyone involved,” she said.
Conflicting reports from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation fueled protesters and elected officials like Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon to demand authorities release video of the deadly shooting.
Allen initially said she would not share the footage because of the ongoing investigation, but relented after determining she would not pursue charges against Clabough or the other three responding officers.
Kincannon said in series of tweets on Wednesday that she was “relieved” body-camera footage was released by authorities.
“While this is a critical step and essential to accountability and transparency in our City, this is still a sad day,” she tweeted. “My heart is heavy knowing how quickly an effort to prevent harm can end in tragedy. Watching the video, my heart breaks again for Anthony. His life matters, and he is gone too soon.”
Efforts to reach Thompson’s family by phone Friday were unsuccessful.
Thompson is the fifth current or former student at the high school who was killed in gunfire this year, WBIR reported. None of the four other students were shot inside the school.