published Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

Police shooting victim had 43 wounds

by Adam Crisp

PDF: 43 bullet wounds


The six officers involved in the July 18 shooting of Alonzo Heyward were placed on seven days administrative leave with pay after the investigation. Officers Lauren Bacha, Deborah Dennison, Zachery Moody, George Romero, William Salyers and Bryan Wood were placed on paid leave, according to Chattanooga Police Department policy. All were believed to be back at work this week, Lt. Kim Noorbergen said.

Six Chattanooga police officers fired 59 bullets to subdue a suicidal armed man last month, a police spokeswoman said today.

A preliminary autopsy report shows the victim, Alonzo A. Heyward, 32, had 43 bullet holes in his body. Without question, those wounds led to his death, the medical examiner's report indicates. But police said the use of force wasn't excessive.

"When we are trained to shoot, we are trained to shoot until we subdue the threat," said Lt. Kim Noorbergen, police spokeswoman. "We are not trained to shoot to kill, as many people think."

Mr. Heyward was pointing a shotgun at his face outside the McDonald's restaurant on Rossville Boulevard in the early morning hours of July 18 when approached by police, according to previous police statements. Officers followed Mr. Heyward to his home on Seventh Avenue, continually asking him to disarm, but Mr. Heyward didn't comply, police have said.

On Monday, Chattanooga police released an audio recording of the encounter. The recording comes from the microphone of Officer Lauren Bacha, who apparently arrived at the scene after Mr. Heyward already was on the porch of his home.

One neighbor is heard telling officers that Mr. Heyward had been threatening to kill himself all day and had been drinking. Police say that once on the porch at his house, Mr. Heyward pointed his weapon at them, and that's when they used a stun gun. When that didn't work, the officers resorted to deadly force.

The audio plays out as a heated exchange between Mr. Heyward and police, followed by the sound of Mr. Heyward being hit with an electric stun gun and then three volleys of gunshots.

Lt. Noorbergen said those three gunfire bursts indicate officers didn't think the threat posed by Mr. Heyward and his gun was quashed.

"You hear a five-second delay and then more gunfire," Lt. Noorbergen said. "In these situations we do what it takes to stop the threat."

The autopsy report, which is not yet final, details gunshot wounds on nearly every part of Mr. Heyward's 5-foot-9-inch, 180-pound body. Bullet holes were present from his chin to his ankle, but Lt. Noorbergen said it's not clear which of those were entry or exit wounds.

"In one case we know there were three wounds for one gunshot," Lt. Noorbergen said, explaining a bullet entered one part of the body, exited and then entered another part.

But the officers did fire a total of 59 rounds at Mr. Heyward, the lieutenant said. A standard .45-caliber pistol holds nine bullets, but not all officers carry the same weapon, she said.

From the start, Mr. Heyward's family has questioned the use of force. No one was at the Seventh Avenue residence on Monday.

"It was like they had machine guns, all shooting," said James Heyward, shortly after the shooting. "All the officers fired a round. (Alonzo) said he didn't want to hurt anybody, he just wanted to hurt himself."

about Adam Crisp...

Adam Crisp covers education issues for the Times Free Press. He joined the paper's staff in 2007 and initially covered crime, public safety, courts and general assignment topics. Prior to Chattanooga, Crisp was a crime reporter at the Savannah Morning News and has been a reporter and editor at community newspapers in southeast Georgia. In college, he led his student paper to a first-place general excellence award from the Georgia College Press Association. He earned ...

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enufisenuf said...

Hey Kim, if six citizens fired 43 rounds into a cop, would you agree to the defense it was to subdue, not to kill? What a childish, lame one sided thug mentality. If a gang did it to a citizen you would paint an entirely differnt picture. WHat kind of class did you have to take to come up with a poor statement like that, liberal brainwashing 101? Your disgusting and no diffeernt than the gang members other than your sanctioned to kill.

August 4, 2009 at 7:51 a.m.
fisher18_80 said...

Let's don't brand EVERYTHING a liberal-conservative issue.

August 4, 2009 at 10:05 a.m.
Lacylady said...

There was only one reason for a bullet to be lodged in this mans body at all...and the reason was because HE decided to take on the police department....bad ideal......Don't go anywhere..NOT even to Chattanooga Tenn and think that you can just pull out the old rifle and start pointing it around at anybody you please..Our police dept..they are here to protect and serve...They tried to protect HIM (he refused)they proceeded to protect all the people around HIM including themselves....They phone call and they were there to be of service in anyway they could...allowed HIM the priveledge to go home...ask him to calm down...ask him to lay the rifle down...But HE had other crazy ideals....They were forced to carry out their training..To Protect and Serve.....Men and Women Tried,True and in Blue.......Thabk You....Lacy

August 4, 2009 at 11:33 a.m.
enufisenuf said...

Lacy, had it been your realative that was used for impromptu target practice you would sing a different tune. THese are suposed to be trained to handle difficult situations. The lack of restraint by these trigger happy thugs put the public in danger, not protect the public. Sorry but your obvious cop is never wrong mentality is ridiculous. Let someone you know get hurt thru stupidity like this and you'll be a bleeding hart. If this is an example of good police work, next gang shooting in Chattanooga, let the gang decide if there was anyu wrong doing and you will get the same one sided verdict the legal thugs give themselves

August 4, 2009 at 11:56 a.m.
hamsandwich said...

These cops need more training. they also need more time on the target range. But don't blame them for doing their jobs. Have you ever faced a suicidal person with a shotgun?

And a shotgun is not a rifle

August 4, 2009 at 12:21 p.m.
enufisenuf said...

THey overdid theri jobs and there is no excuse for the dangerous, overzealous and careless, unprofessional way they reacted. Quit making excuses for their actions.

August 4, 2009 at 1:56 p.m.
Jack_Ryan said...

They shot this man like he were a paper target in a shooting gallery. If that's all the training officers get, then that is what subjects get.

A complete waste of bullets, which the US Army calls foolishness.

August 4, 2009 at 2:09 p.m.
Sailorman said...

All you Monday morning quarterbacks would have no doubt been much more calm, cool, and collected. If you had fired at all, it would have been one carefully placed shot to wound instead of kill. I do wonder why they didn't hit him with another Taser or two though.

August 4, 2009 at 2:45 p.m.
Humphrey said...

well at least they saved him from killing himself.

August 4, 2009 at 8:51 p.m.
enufisenuf said...

Monday Morning Quarterback? This was MURDER BY COP(s) and only the brain dead or a cop would see it any different.

August 4, 2009 at 9:39 p.m.
swms said...

Maybe cops would show more restraint with grenades? They would tire out before throwing 59!

August 4, 2009 at 10:45 p.m.
Sailorman said...

enuf - I'm not a cop and, obviously unlike you, neither am I braindead. Maybe your arrogance and moral superiority would retreat a bit with a shotgun pointed at you.

August 4, 2009 at 10:55 p.m.
jbrote47 said...

If you're carrying a rifle and refuse to follow police instructions, you deserve to get your sorry butt shot.

August 4, 2009 at 11:03 p.m.
swms said...

The kid NEVER even fired.

August 4, 2009 at 11:04 p.m.
Sailorman said...

"The kid never even fired" 32 is not a kid.

So you would wait for a guy with a gun to shoot at you first? What - you have a death wish?

August 4, 2009 at 11:34 p.m.
rolando said...

It is time Chatt police considered changing their ammo. Forty-nine shots to stop a perp indicates something is wrong with either the caliber used or the bullet itself. [Presuming the perp wasn't self-medicating...]

August 5, 2009 at 4:14 a.m.
rolando said...

More importantly, Humphrey, the officers stopped him from killing OTHER people.

August 5, 2009 at 6:37 a.m.
RM said...

To: enufisenuf,

I am a police officer in a different state and came across this article completely on accident. I can tell you from what I read in this article that officers acted appropriately given the situation in which they were in. A police officer may use deadly force when he/she has an articulateble belief that he/she, other officers, and/or the public is in immediate threat of great deadly harm or death. To break that down, if someone has a deadly weapon, is in close enough proximity officers or the public to do harm with said weapon, and has uttered statements and/or made actions that would cause “a reasonable police officer” in the same situation to believe the suspect might cause harm, then deadly action can back taken.

As for the number of rounds fires; I do not know the physical stature, body composition, or condition of the suspect. I do not know the toxicology or psychological status of the suspect, and unless you have obtained information from outside this article, neither do you. All the above are factors that can effect the survivability of a person who has suffered a gunshot wound. One factor to consider is that the only way to cause instantaneous cessation of life is to interrupt the central nervous system (head shot that severs brainstem). This is a difficult shot to make especially when one is under stress. Officers are not trained to make head shots. Officers are trained to shoot at the center mass (torso) of the suspect and continue to do so until the treat is gone. Officers are trained to this manner, because the suspect are not killed from the gunshot, he/she dies from blood loss. The brain losses consciousness long before death and thus many suspects do not die because once a suspect losses consciousness he/she is no longer a threat, his/her weapon can be removed, and he/she can receive medical treatment.

The idea of taser deployment is an amazing less lethal option that many police officer now have. However, a taser works by electrically over stimulating the skeletal muscular system. This is achieve by causing a quick and violent contraction of the skeletal muscle, not a good thing to cause a person to involuntarily make a fist when his/her finger is on a trigger.

As with any issue, it is much easier to condemn than it is to research. Try to find out the why before passing judgement on someone in whose shoes you’ve never walked and in whose job you have never experienced.

August 5, 2009 at 10:34 p.m.
Sailorman said...

Nice try RM but reason doesn't enter into this as should be obvious from some of the comments. Now that the NAACP is "looking into" this, it can only continue downhill. We can expect the Sharpton/Jackson circus to roll into town any day.

August 5, 2009 at 11 p.m.
LaughingBoy said...

Those of you thinking this was excessive, how many shots do you think should have been fired? Let's have a specific number.

August 6, 2009 at 12:28 a.m.
BB said...

RM is right. Just because someone has been shot does not mean they are no longer a threat. Enufisenuf, you sure do have a lot of anger towards the police. So tell me who would you call if someone was breaking into your house, stealing your car, raping you, kicking you ass? It is easy to sit back and make comments on something you know NOTHING about! Were you there; did you see what happened as is unfolded? If so fill us in. Murder by cop, no. Sucide by cop, yes. Everyones actions has consequents. Pointing a loaded rifle at police, ACTION. Being shot by police who the loaded rifle is being pointed at, CONSEQUENTS! You are apparentlly some one who does not take responsibility for your actions and rather blame and point the finger at someone else.

August 10, 2009 at 12:16 p.m.
EPD1979 said...

Sounds to me like our Chattanooga Police officers get a little too excited, then get gun happy. Why so many shots? The stun gun wasn't enough? One shot couldn't do it? Please!

August 10, 2009 at 2:17 p.m.
45acp said...

check this out everoneHEYWARD, ALONZO ARNESS 5/23/1977 0661726 FUGITIVE FROM S.C. 4/13/1995 4/28/1995 4/28/1995 HOLCOMB, RICHARD BUSH, LARRY #1574 Hamilton County
Select HEYWARD, ALONZO ARNESS 5/23/1977 0748657 REGISTRATION, DRIVING UNREGISTERED VEHICLE 3/9/1997 4/3/1997 4/3/1997 SMITH, H. L. ADAMS, WINDOLE #1211 Hamilton County
Select HEYWARD, ALONZO ARNESS 5/23/1977 0748658 SPEEDING 84/65 3/9/1997 4/2/1997 4/3/1997 SMITH, H. L. ADAMS, WINDOLE #1211 Hamilton County
Select HEYWARD, ALONZO ARNESS 5/23/1977 0800323 STOP SIGN VIOLATION 4/9/1998 4/14/1998 7/10/1998 5/7/1998 CHAMBERLIN, EDDY #851 Chattanooga
Select HEYWARD, ALONZO ARNESS 5/23/1977 0822329 DOMESTIC ASSAULT 10/1/1998 10/1/1998 2/4/2000 2/4/2000 HOLCOMB, RICHARD HARE, LAWRENCE #896 Chattanooga
Select HEYWARD, ALONZO ARNESS 5/23/1977 0990966 AGGRAVATED ASSAULT (DOMESTIC) 6/16/2002 6/16/2002 5/25/2005 5/25/2005 HOLCOMB, RICHARD SHAINLINE, ROBERT #385 Chattanooga
Select HEYWARD, ALONZO ARNESS 5/23/1977 1078441 PASSING WORTHLESS CHECK(S) 10/5/2003 1/27/2004 5/25/2005 5/25/2005 SELL, CHRISTINE MAHN MAY, JOSH #453 Chattanooga
Select HEYWARD, ALONZO ARNESS 5/23/1977 1276820 CONTRABAND IN PENAL INSTITUTIONS 7/10/2007 7/10/2007 7/18/2007 7/18/2007 SHATTUCK, CLARENCE HILL, DUANE #1256 Hamilton County
Select HEYWARD, ALONZO ARNESS 5/23/1977 1302911 DOMESTIC ASSAULT 1/25/2008 1/25/2008 8/6/2009 BALES, DAVID E

August 10, 2009 at 2:45 p.m.
SCOTTYM said...

Nice rap sheet!

2 domestic assaults, and an aggravated assault?

Animals get treated like, well, animals.

August 10, 2009 at 5:33 p.m.
Dr_Dread said...

Why is it that when someone is critical of police action in any paticular situation, they are assumed not to respect the difficuty of the job that they do? I understand that their job is stressful one that often puts them in harms way as they are often required to face various levels of danger while performing their job. I also believe that in most cases, they perform their duties such a level that honors their profession and warrants the utmost respect. But from time to time, they fail to meet the higher standards that their profession requires. In such cases, it is important that those who support the profession as well as those who are part of it, hold them to the higher standard; else the interity of the profession be in jepardy. 59 shots fired warrants a certain amount of scepticism. Someone asked about a specific number of shots that would be justified. They asked because they know that their is no way to answer such a question; but I will say that 15 shots would be easier to jusify. That would mean about 10 hits given the 43/59 hit/miss ratio. I've yet to see a man that 10 rounds center mass wouldn't subdue. Their is such a hugh difference in the amount of force required to subdue and the amount of force used that clooser examination is required.

P. S. The criminal record of this suspect appaers to have absolutely no relevance in this case.

August 10, 2009 at 6:43 p.m.
SCOTTYM said...


I agree with much of what you say. There should (and will be) a full inquiry into this incident.

"I've yet to see a man that 10 rounds center mass wouldn't subdue."

That sounds good, but it doesn't really always play out that way in reality. If the central nervous system is hit a man will go down quick, even with only one shot. The problem is CNS shots are pretty much luck-of-the-draw. (Excluding headshots, which officers are NOT trained to perform) The other two types of incapacitation from gunshot wounds are psychological (they just quit doing whatever they are doing because the first shot removes the will), and bleed out. Bleed out can take a few minutes, even with fatal wounds. A man with a rifle can do a lot of damage in just a few minutes. The defender shoots until the threat stops. 1 shot, 8 shots, slide-lock, slip in another mag and keep shooting till the aggressor stops. (I personally practice Mozambique drills at the range, but the public would surely get in an uproar if officers started doing that) Every incident will be different. There is no way to be sure which shot will end the threat.

"P. S. The criminal record of this suspect appears to have absolutely no relevance in this case."

On the contrary, it is very relevant. He has repeatedly shown himself to have no regard for the laws of the land, nor other individuals' right to be free from assault. This man was a ticking bomb. Thank goodness he didn't take anyone else with him.

August 10, 2009 at 11 p.m.
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