Three Chattanooga police officers involved in a shooting that killed Roger Heard Jr. have returned to active duty, the Police Department said.
Two of the officers, Nicholas Ayres and Christopher Dyess, were on paid administrative leave for seven days following the Aug. 11 shooting, department spokesperson Kevin West said in an email.
"The standard administrative leave period for affected personnel in an officer involved shooting or other police action critical incident is seven days," West said.
The third officer, Celtain Batterson, was shot during the gunfire exchange at the Speedway gas station on Third Street and Holtzclaw Avenue. He had to undergo surgery and is back on modified duty as he recovers from his wounds, West said. Batterson may have been on leave for more than seven days, according to West, though the spokesperson did not know when the officer was put on modified duty.
Officers on a street crime detail, some in plain clothes and unmarked cars, attempted to arrest Heard on warrants at the gas station the night of Aug. 11, a release from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said. Heard, who also went by Mac Purp, fired multiple shots before officers shot back, Hamilton County District Attorney Coty Wamp said in a statement. He was pronounced dead after being taken to a hospital.
The shooting is still under investigation by the TBI, spokesperson Susan Niland said in an email Thursday.
After releasing video of the incident, Wamp told the Chattanooga Times Free Press she believes the shooting was justified. Wamp will be tasked with deciding whether to bring charges against the officers once the TBI completes its report, at her request.
"Just being in possession of a firearm and refusing law enforcement commands — and then certainly having a firearm and displaying it to law enforcement — justifies deadly force," Wamp told the newspaper in August.
An internal investigation into the shooting was still open as of Aug. 30, according to department records. Ayres and Dyess were taken off leave around 10 days before that.
The Rev. Ann Jones Pierre, president of the Chattanooga Hamilton County NAACP, said she was surprised the district attorney seemed to have already made a decision on the shooting.
"I can't be definitive on this, but what I remember is they (officers involved in shootings) were on desk duty or whatever until the investigation was complete," Jones-Pierre said by phone. "I'm surprised at the entire situation."
After the shooting, the NAACP and hundreds of people demonstrating at a Chattanooga City Council meeting called for the release of all video and other evidence in the investigation. Wamp's office released the video, from a Speedway security camera, several days later.
The Times Free Press requested any other dashcam or bodycam footage from the shooting. The city has denied the request since the matter remains under investigation.
Batterson has worked at the department for nearly 10 years, city records show. He was placed on leave for several weeks in 2022 as a result of past allegations of untruthfulness. Department records show he was previously suspended for two days in 2015 for sustained allegations of violating the pursuit policy and negligence with weapons.
Dyess, who has been a Chattanooga officer for four years, received a letter of reprimand in August for violating the pursuit policy in June 2022, records show.
Ayres joined the department in 2018, according to city records.