Alabama police chief says shooting was justified; dead man's family disagrees

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OPELIKA, Ala. - An Opelika police officer was justified in fatally shooting a man who pulled a firearm during a struggle, the chief of police said Monday.

Jared Greer feared for his life and was justified under Alabama law in shooting Bennie Lee Tignor, Opelika Police Chief John McEachern said at a news conference, according to The Opelika-Auburn News.

Tignor's brother, however, said he had doubts about the police department's version of events, the newspaper reported.

McEachern said police have dash camera footage of the encounter that will be turned over to the State Bureau of Investigation, the newspaper said.

"Based on a preliminary review of the facts of this case, I believe the actions of Officer Greer were clearly justified under Alabama law," McEachern said. "He only used deadly force when it was necessary to defend himself against the imminent threat posed by Mr. Tignor."

McEachern said Greer had turned on his patrol car lights and attempted to pull Tignor over for a traffic offense, but Tignor continued driving to a home, McEachern said. At the residence, Tignor tried to go inside and refused to comply with the officer's commands, the chief said.

"At some point during the struggle, Mr. Tignor brandished a small-caliber pistol. Officer Greer, fearing for his safety, drew his department-issued weapon and fired multiple rounds at Mr. Tignor," McEachern said.

Tignor's brother, Barnard Tignor, was quoted by the paper as saying that he believes the shooting was unnecessary and the officer could have waited for backup. Barnard Tignor said his brother had not owned a gun in several years, but acknowledged that he struggled with the officer.

He said the family has cellphone video of the shooting and is seeking a lawyer's advice.

"He got the best of the officer, and the officer shot him," Barnard Tignor said. "It'll all come out with the video that was recorded on a phone."