Four Hamilton County deputies on leave after fatal shooting

Four Hamilton County deputies are on paid leave for their involvement in a shooting that left a man dead, according to the Sheriff's Office.

The deputies joined a chase that began Sunday in Ringgold, Georgia, after law enforcement there responded to a domestic dispute involving a couple and their 18-month-old child, according to officials in Catoosa County.

Tyler Lebron Roberts, 31, reportedly took the child and led deputies on a pursuit for around 12 miles after crossing into Tennessee on Interstate 75.

(READ MORE: Affidavit: Downtown Chattanooga police pursuit reached more than 80 mph)

He was stopped near the Ooltewah exit by spike strips deployed by Hamilton County deputies and allegedly began shooting at deputies, who fired back, killing him, according to a statement from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Deputies Jorge Araiza, Alfred Girardot, Andrew Pierson and Jake Thomas have been placed on administrative leave for 14 days, the office said in a news release Tuesday.

Girardot was shot in the face and Thomas was shot in the arm during the exchange, according to the release. Both were treated and released from a local hospital.

(READ MORE: Chattanooga officers not charged in teen's killing)

"After being with my deputies Sunday night both at the scene and at the hospital, it is apparent it is by God's grace these two deputies are alive and were not more seriously injured despite being shot during this tragic incident," Sheriff Austin Garrett said in the release. "I am also incredibly grateful the small child involved in this incident was not seriously harmed."

Garrett said the deputies likely saved the child's life and called them heroes for their actions.

The TBI will investigate the shooting, as with most fatal shootings by law enforcement officers in Tennessee, at the direction of Hamilton County District Attorney Coty Wamp. Wamp will decide whether the shooting was justified.

According to internal affairs records from the Sheriff's Office, none of the deputies involved had previously reported firing their guns on the job.

One of the deputies on leave, Araiza, was charged with domestic assault in February 2021 after allegedly slapping a woman across her back. That charge was dismissed later that year after Araiza received court-ordered treatment, court records show.

Araiza was hired in 2015 and has been involved in eight pursuits and four car accidents since then, internal affairs records show. In early 2020, he was suspended for eight hours after an accident was found to be outside office policy. In August 2021, he was ordered to redo training on crime scene procedures after an allegation of neglecting duty was sustained, records show.

Girardot joined the Sheriff's Office in 2021, personnel records show, and had used force three times before this incident. His record also reported his involvement in seven pursuits and four citizen complaints made against him.

Pierson, who was hired in 2018, has used force 21 previous times in response to resistance. He has also been involved in 33 pursuits, records show.

Thomas was hired in 2013 and has reported 19 instances of using force in response to resistance. In 2019, he was cited for unbecoming conduct, suspended for five days and reassigned to the jail. Thomas was also placed on probation with the Sheriff's Office for 12 months. Since 2016, Thomas has been cited three times for violating the office's take-home car policy and received verbal counseling and reprimands.

Contact Ellen Gerst at or 423-757-6319.

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