Grundy County chase suspect to face charges

Grundy County chase suspect to face charges

November 10th, 2012 by Ben Benton in Local Regional News

Russell Smith, 45, of Palmer, Tenn.

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

The man shot by Grundy County, Tenn., deputies during a late-October pursuit in Palmer, Tenn., will face federal charges when he's released from the hospital, authorities said.

Russell W. Smith, 45, shot twice by deputies during a foot pursuit in Palmer on Oct. 29, now will be charged federally with being a felon in possession of firearms, according to Chad Johnson with the federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Johnson said a federal gun possession investigation involving Smith was under way as part of previous drug and weapons charges for which he was being held when he escaped from jail a couple of weeks before the shooting incident.

Johnson said Smith was found then with a meth lab and a shotgun.

Smith was at-large when Grundy County deputies found out where he was and attempted to serve a warrant against him for escape two days before Halloween, according to Johnson.

Now, Smith faces more federal gun charges in connection with the .22-caliber semi-automatic rifle and a 9 mm pistol he was found with after he was shot, Johnson said.

Grundy County Sheriff Brent Myers, who was at the scene when the shooting happened, said the two officers involved in the shooting, deputies Jon Bell and Derrick Morrison, are back at work after being placed on administrative leave with pay after the shooting.

Describing the shooting that day, Myers said that when he arrived Smith had been chased on foot into the woods by one deputy while another was holding three suspects believed to have been helping Smith flee.

The deputy in the foot chase called for fellow officers to head Smith off at the top of a hill, the sheriff said.

"We got within about 40 feet of him. He was kind of hid behind a tree, and he had a rifle drawn on the officer down below," Myers said.

The officer below Smith did not know where Smith was, the sheriff said.

Bell and Morrison commanded Smith to put down the rifle, but Myers said Smith turned it on the two deputies. They fired, striking Smith in the abdomen and neck.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Kristin Helm said the state agency's investigation into the shooting, routine procedure in such cases, is not complete.