A Blount County deputy who fatally shot a Greenback man armed with an ax two weeks ago has been cleared of any wrongdoing, authorities said.
In a news release issued Friday, Blount County Sheriff James Lee Berrong said the Blount County District Attorney General’s Office reviewed the findings of a police investigation and determined the deputy’s actions were justifiable and in compliance with state law.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and BCSO conducted the probe into the fatal shooting of Brian Lee Rogers, 40, Crumley Road, Greenback.
Deputy Jarred Pekala, who shot Rogers, has been on administrative leave with pay since the incident, as per department policy, the BCSO said. He will resume his duties next week.
The incident occurred the afternoon of Sept. 30 when Pekala, a 24-year-old deputy who has been with the BCSO since August 2016, was sent to a residence on Emert Williams Road after Rogers’ mother called authorities and reported he was acting erratically.
Footage from Pekala’s dashcam, which the BCSO released on Friday, shows the deputy driving up to the residence and a male figure, Rogers, darting across the road several yards ahead before disappearing behind a patch of tall brush.
A woman is seen chasing after him. As Pekala pulls up, Rogers comes running toward the patrol car with an ax in his right hand.
Pekala backs his cruiser to a distance the Sheriff’s Office estimated to be about 320 feet. Rogers is seen chasing after the deputy and appears to be shouting as he uses his left hand to point at Pekala’s patrol car.
When Rogers slows to a walk, Pekala backs up even farther before stopping. In his report, the deputy estimated it put 30 yards between himself and Rogers. Also in the report, Pekala states he got out, pulled his handgun and pointed it at Rogers and gave “loud, clear verbal commands to stop and drop the ax.”
Pekala can be heard in the video shouting, “(Expletive) back up dude! (Expletive) do it now! Stop right now, I’m about to shoot you! Stop right now! I’m about to shoot you!”
Rogers can be seen continuing to advance toward the deputy, ax in hand. As he marches closer, Rogers can be heard telling Pekala to, “Come here, boy.”
He eventually walks so far toward the deputy he disappears out of camera range. This is right as Pekala yells his final, “I’m about to shoot you!”
Six gunshots ring out two seconds later. Three seconds after that, Pekala is heard notifying dispatchers and other units of shots fired.
Other deputies arrived and helped render aid to Rogers, who sustained wounds to his chest, stomach, groin, leg and head, the report said. An ambulance took him to Blount Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead a short time later, police said.
In the release, Berrong said law enforcement officers have to make “split-second decisions when they are confronted with an individual who is armed.”
“Many citizens do not realize the dangers and complexities of police work,” Berrong said. “In Blount County, we are blessed with great community support, but across the country, criticism of law enforcement officers is on the increase. Our deputies faithfully continue to uphold their oaths and protect our citizens, despite knowing they will be second-guessed in traditional and social media. They are also aware they are a target because of the uniform they wear. I stand by my deputies.”